Friday, June 24, 2005

Back from Ottawa

Was I just in Ottawa? I hardly noticed. It was less than 24 hours (about 21, to be exact), with 8 hours spent in a workshop, 8 hours spent sleeping, and an hour or two for traveling back and forth to the airport. That didn’t leave much room for being a tourist. Other than a quick glimpse of the war memorial and parliament, you could have convinced me I was in almost any city.

Luckily, I’ve been to Ottawa quite a few times or I would have been rather bummed not to be able to wander. We did go for a walk down Sparks street and ate a late supper at an outdoor Lebanese restaurant (yummy falafels), so it wasn’t all business.

I was at a workshop about Food Aid. Some of the world’s greatest thinkers on Food Aid converged on Ottawa for the day. I was moderator for one of the panel discussions, which was kinda fun. I thought I’d be in way over my head, because I’ve only worked in this field for a year and didn’t think I had a very solid grasp on the issues compared to those people who’ve been immersed in it for most of their adult lives. But I was pleasantly surprised to find that I knew more than I thought I knew, and there wasn’t a lot there that I didn’t understand or hadn’t heard before. Either these brilliant minds were dumbing it down for us lesser beings, or I’m smarter than I think I am. :-) I’m hoping the latter is the case (please don’t burst my bubble if you know otherwise).

This was one of those trips where I realize how many people I know. There were 2 people on the flight on the way there who I used to work with, and then there were 4 people in the Ottawa airport who(m?) I knew. None of these people were connected to each other – I know them all from different places. Bizarre. Most of them work for the federal government, and because I spent so many years in the government in several different departments, I know a lot of people by now.

What’s bugging me though, was the person I ran into whom I just can’t place. I didn’t have much time to chat with her (I was running to catch my connecting flight), but as I ran past, we both said something like “don’t I know you from somewhere”? We’d been on the same flight and clearly she’d been trying to figure out who I was too. She said she knew my name was Heather, but she really couldn’t figure out how she knew me. I’m still puzzled. Who is she? I hope that one of these nights when I’m lying awake trying to figure out who she is, I’ll have an “a-ha” moment and remember. It’s REALLY bugging me!

Okay, here's another thing that's bugging me... I have no idea if I used "who" and "whom" correctly in the above 2 paragraphs. That's one of those grammatical things that stumps me. But I guess I don't care enough to grab my grammar book and check, so if I got it wrong, I'm sure one of my grammar-obsessed family members or friends (yes, there are several of them) will point it out.


CP said...


Jo said...

On the issue of smartness, it certainly is the latter :)

Kim said...

That bugs me too when I know I know someone - I am so bad at names but I am good at faces so usually I feel I can't approach them if I don't even know their name.

As far as the who/whom - I never know. I'm lucky I can make a complete sentence without using the word "y'all", "them there thangs" or "over yonder there a-ways" - so your wording always sounds perfect to me. :-)

Have a great weekend!

Anvilcloud said...

My guess is that this is a 'who' but that the previous 'who' should be a 'whom' because in that case it is clearly an object -- 'with whom I used to work.' But it is confusing, and I'm not sure whether I am correct or not.

Linda said...

I believe that you are far smarter than you realize. As for the who and whom, who(m) knows? I don't care enough right now to go and check on it.

Dale said...

You appear to be fumbling for words, dear Heather. Maybe this'll help.

Q. When do you use "whom" instead of "who"?
A. Use "who" when a nominative pronoun is appropriate, and "whom" when an objective pronoun is appropriate.

"Who" is a nominative pronoun (meaning it acts as the subject) and is used as the subject of a verb, as in "It was Paul who rescued the dog."

"Whom" is an objective pronoun (meaning it serves as an object) and is used:

1. As the object of a verb, as in "Whom did you see?" Or:
2. As the object of a preposition, as in "That is the group to whom the credit belongs."

"Who" and "whom" seem to cause more difficulty than other pronouns. Try this: When you're not sure, substitute the word "him" and see if it still sounds right. If "him" is OK, then "whom" is OK.

For example: "You talked to whom? You talked to him." It would be wrong to say "You talked to he," and few native English speakers would make that mistake.

Don't thank me. I wasn't sure either. Thank dictionary.com!

Gina said...

Even though my degree is in English and I had to take a few linguistics courses, I never know for sure either. I care more about correct word usage than grammar. Grammar sucks.

Can you tell I've had a long day? :)