Sunday, September 21, 2008

Seven Up!

For the last couple of weeks the "classic movies" have been the Up Documentaries by Michael Apted. In 1963 of the group from the BBC interviewed about a dozen seven-year-old children from various backgrounds in a documentary called Seven Up. It proved to be a hit so every seven years thereafter they would track down the same children to interview them to see how they were doing with the resulting documentaries called 14-Up, 21-Up, 28-Up and so on. The most recent one is 49-Up which I think was released last year. So far friends and I have watched 7, 21 and 42, and the 49 we will see in a few weeks when a friend brings it back from the States. They're quite good and I recommend watching them, especially 7 which cracked me up something fierce.

Reflecting on the movies I thought it would be interesting to compose my own brief 7 Up blog entry, turns out my life had changed significantly every seven years...

Born: 1970

7 -- Location: Regina, Saskatchewan

Regina is where I was born. I went to an elementary school a little more than a block away and my house was fairly close to the edge of the city and the beginning of the prairie (now I'm sure it's a few kilometres away from the prairie since the city must have grown). Most of my time was spent playing with my friend Terry Dixon and getting into the standard hijinks a young boy that age would get into. I also seem to recall that the nearest corner store, where my friends and I would go buy candy, was I think six or seven blocks away. My street ended at a small hill beyond which was a large field with railway tracks, but I do not recall if there were any trains using them. I hope I have my year right but I believe around this time in 1977 my family was preparing to move to Penticton, British Columbia, where my father had been transferred. I remember looking forward to the move as it would mean a long journey into the mountains, which I had never seen before.

14 -- Location: Penticton, British Columbia

At this point I was attending McNicoll secondary school, about a 20 minute walk away. Oddly enough I do not recall much specific to myself around this time. It was 1984 is what I remember most was the changes that were occurring in technology and culture. Music videos were becoming huge, and personal computers were starting to become prevalent. My friend Joel and I were using his Commoadore Vic-20, and it may been 1984 that he got a Commodore-64, which for its time was absolutely mind-blowing. I was also spending a lot of time down at the arcades, which were a big thing in the 80s, and hanging out at the local comics store. I think I also started working summers that year, with my first job being at the concession stand at the Okanagan Game Farm (maybe that was 1985, can't remember). I do not recall that I had any real plans for the future, my plans probably consisted of going to university after I graduated from high school, but that would have been four long years away.

21 -- Location: Kelowna, British Columbia

By the time I graduated from high school the nearby college, Okanagan College, had opened a satellite campus in Penticton for first-year students so I did my first-year college there then transferred to the main campus about 70 km north in Kelowna for the second year, majoring in chemistry. The college was a two-year college at which point students would then transfer on to the major universities on the coast (University of British Columbia, Simon Freezer University... etc) to finish their degrees. Oddly enough when I was in second year Okanagan College announced that it had a new tie-in with the University of British Columbia and were thus going to offer full four-year degrees. So at 21 I signed up to Okanagan College for my third year ...

... and I was the only chemistry student!

That was kind of bizarre being the only chemistry major. Now most chemistry courses that I took had more than one student in it because of the biology and physics majors. It usually ranged from four students to about seven. But there was the occasional specialist chemistry class for which I was the only student. Just me and the professor in the classroom, and because rules required that during labs the professor and at least one lab assistant be present I had the occasional lab where I was the only student and had two people helping me. Weird, eh?

How professors treated it differed depending on the professor. Some treated it more as a tutorial while others just went into "teaching mode" and did the same routine that they would if they had a class of 50 people.

Being the only student did have its advantages and disadvantages. If I was sick or away all I had to do was let the teacher know and I wouldn't miss anything, which was pretty cool. I was also able to schedule a couple of my exams to be at a more convenient time since I was the only one writing them. Downsides were since there was no one else in the class there were no other students to kind of compare notes or answers on assignments, and the worst part of it was you had to pay attention the entire time in class. No matter how boring the lecture was you couldn't drift off or start daydreaming because the professor was talking directly to you the whole time! There were some days where it was pretty tough.

At the time I was sharing a two-bedroom apartment with two other guys from the college. It was a nice place and just across the street from the science buildings so it took me all of three minutes to walk to class sometimes. There were a number of housemates who came and went in that apartment but I think at the time I was rooming with Brad Wakefield and Mike Varga, two guys from a town called Salmon Arm a couple hours drive north. I was hanging out with some friends from high school who also moved up to Kelowna (Jake, Tyson, Scott), my best friend Rod Young, as well as the Salmon Arm crew Brad & Mike knew.

I also recall being pretty broke. I was working summers and weekends at a nearby Agricultural Research Station operated by the government which paid enough for me to not have to use student loans to pay for school but did not leave a lot of extra money for fun. I was also stubborn and would refrain from asking my parents for money as much as possible, even if that meant eating Raman noodles for dinner. I also remember I was starting to get less enamoured with chemistry and was not sure whether I would even be able to go on to graduate school. My favourite course was actually a geography class taught by a really nice professor who was big on getting students to use their brains and think a bit beyond just rote memorisation. I don't remember his name but I do recall he was close to retiring.

My plans for the future were unknown and I seem to recall being a little bit worried about it.

Next blog entry: 28-Up, 35-Up, and today.


Magnus said...

Fascinating. I had always meant to catch Apted's 7 up docs. Very cool post.

Glen McKay said...

try it out for yourself magnus. I liked reflecting on everything that had happened.

Magnus said...

Once I set up cable and internet at home, I will.