Monday, November 27, 2006

Not looking good to me

Today I saw something that fills me with fear. It is not related to what has been going on in my life recently. Rather, it was an article in today's Globe, "Water is the new oil: CIBC". When the business section of the paper starts telling people to invest in privatized water schemes because they are bringing in lots more money and are in-line for unprecedented investment (which the public sector won't be able or willing to make), I worry. When they make the point of ensuring people know that the world isn't running out of water, just that a small minority of us have access to it, I worry. When they don't highlight the fact that the very privatization that they are encouraging is likely to worsen the inequalities of access, I worry. One point, that is bound to set others to worry, is the note that the cost of water in the "industrialized world" has been increasing to bring it more in line with the actual costs. This has the capability of lessening the access gap. Still, shouldn't safe access be a right? Is the "free market" in the business for providing for people's rights? I'll let you answer that question yourself.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

A childhood friend died this weekend.

We had not maintained close contact but had crossed-paths in the past couple of months. It is almost impossible for me to imagine though, the grief that his family and close friends are confronting. My thoughts are with them.

It is in times of tragedy that I am all too often reminded of the importance of living life to it's fullest. I feel an inherent guilt in tying someone's intense loss to my approach to day-to-day life. That being said, it was wisely pointed-out to me that many of us want to have a positive impact on the lives of those around us. I know that is very clearly the case for me. While I have failed miserably at it at points in the past (and even quite recently), I know that I still want it to be true. So, if I knew that even in my dying I could help others revisit their approach to living, I would be happy knowing that. I'd like to think that my friend would think that too.

It has certainly reminded me of the importance to express to those around me the important role that they play in my life. I don't think that is ever a bad idea. Still, I have taken much for granted and want to try to continue to live consciously. Conscious of myself and of those around me. Except consciousness is not enough. Maybe "active consciousness" is more important. Being conscious of things sometimes just make me over-analyze. Even having thought things through, I have failed in their application. To those who have been on the receiving end, I apologize. To the rest of you, I hope that my muddled thinking provides you with a moment of clarity on your own approach to living.

Friday, November 24, 2006

It's Friday

There was a time when my week was framed by Tuesday (the day that new music comes out) and Friday (new movie day-usually). Okay, it probably wasn't that long ago. Okay, it was last week. Okay, it's right now.

While I haven't been watching too many movies of late I still like to keep up-to-date on what is hip, happening and cool (or so the director's mother says). That doesn't apply just to movies. I try and stay up-to-date on plenty. That's why I find myself reading lots of different sources for news. Maybe I'm expanding my bubble.

Whether I am trying to burst my bubble or procrastinate from, well... just about anything, I do touch in to different things. Don't worry, this is where it comes back to movies. While a quick look at Rotten Tomatoes is good to get the overall feel of a movie based in the reviews of plenty of critics, some people do better with finding a critic with whom they share an affinity (for David Hasselhoff, perhaps) and listening to them. Well, I can't say that I've necessarily found that "perfect critic". Seems like an oxymoron anyway. What I have found is the most interesting approach to reviews I've seen in a long time. No, they haven't replaced the tried-and-true "thumbs up" or "thumbs down". Instead they go into greater detail than I've seen before. Now maybe I should've seen this coming based on the source but I have a tendency not to see obvious things coming sometimes. In this case, the source is the Christian Science Monitor. Not considering myself particularly Christian, I could have immediately considered such a publication out of my area of interest. But the CS Monitor is widely read and widely respected. While I have read a number of their articles, I had not ever seen their movie reviews, that is, until today. This is where it falls more in line with what I might have expected from a publication called the Christian Science Monitor (this is not a judgment, just recognition). Listing the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) rating isn't enough in the case of many of their reviews. They go all out:

Sex/Nudity: 18 scenes, including frank talk about sex, graphic depiction of sexual activity, and full-frontal male nudity. Violence: 3 comic scenes. Profanity: 42 harsh profanities. Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: 4 scenes with drinking.

Think you can figure out that one? What about:

Sex/Nudity: 4 instances of innuendo. Violence: 6 scenes. Profanity: 24 mild expressions. Drugs/Alcohol/Tobacco: 2 instances of drinking.

I dunno, I might be inclined to watch the movies just to try to add them all up. Not tonight though. Good luck figuring it out.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

More days

I mentioned it last year and, remarkably, it has come around again. "What?!" you ask. Why Buy Nothing Day, of course. It is both Friday and Saturday this year, depending on your locale. Really, it could be any day of the year. You could declare every Thursday to be Buy Nothing Day. This is not necessarily a money-saving event but rather a planet saving one. At least that is the intent of many. Why now? Well, tomorrow is known as "Black Friday" in the 'States. Unlike the many other associations with Black that are negative (Black Tuesday, the Black Plague, Conrad Black etc.), this is supposed to represent a positive. It is the supposed day where businesses go from being in debt (in the Red) to making a profit (in the Black). And in a country where nobody needs an excuse for a sale

(case in point, what is recognized in Canada as Remembrance Day in Canada and Armistice Day in many other parts of the world is Veteran's Day in the U.S. and darn if you weren't going to find yourself some great deals at Macy's or Walmart or some such place if you honoured the fallen by dropping some coin)

"Black Friday" is another occasion to shop. So it is, that "Buy Nothing Day" was moved from it's original September home to counter some of the energy around this shop-stravaganza. I'll do my damndest to follow the tennets of BND but I question my own dedication to the cause. How could I not as the owner of my very own auto-car, computadora and host of other toys? Still, awareness is always a start. One just has to avoid the scourge of indifference if they want to create change. Indifference is a truly dangerous reaction to evil and sadness in the world. This was the theme of a speech last night by Elie Wiesel. While he spoke from his experience in the holocaust I do not find it any great stretch to see the dangers we still find ourselves in to which we react with indifference. Global warming seems to me to be the big one since nobody can escape it. Still, I, and infinite others, go about the day's business with scarcely a thought. Maybe we should all think conciously about our mantra

(mantra |ˈmantrə; ˈmän-| noun (originally in Hinduism and Buddhism) a word or sound repeated to aid concentration in meditation. • a Vedic hymn. • a statement or slogan repeated frequently : the environmental mantra that energy has for too long been too cheap.).

We seem to meditate on the repetition of "convenience, convenience, convenience". What sort of mantra suits me better? Sadly, I feel like "silly, silly, silly" fits the bill at the moment but I know with some time and concious thought I can come up with something better.

In terms of awareness building, here is some press BND 2006 has received.

Further to awareness, or lack thereof, it turns out that I missed my 1 year blogging anniversary. We are one! With 180-some-odd posts and plenty of useless links. It actually happened on the 17th but better late than never. In fact, our family motto, not mantra, is "Late, but in earnest."

I must admit that I am surprised at myself for continuing this blogging adventure as regularly as I have for the past year. Often journaling has trailed-off with me in the past. Probably because I'm "just" writing it for me. I don't have the responsibility to others that I have here. So, I guess it's time to thank you for figuratively holding a whip to my... fingers and keeping me on task. Maybe a little more of that might help me get rid of the first part of the motto and just be "in earnest". As long as it's not Ernest Goes to Camp. Shudder.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Any Day

Sadly, World Toilet day has flowed by but it is not the only day worth celebrating. I am amazed at the range of momentous events that fall on any given day. We all have our "bubble". Within it we are keenly aware of the goings-on. Birthdays, anniversaries, news-making events. The question is: How big is our bubble? I imagine that many of our bubbles include just a small fraction of moments of note for any given day. Take tomorrow (November 22) for example. There are those (much older than I) who might have an immediate reaction to that day. Why? John F. Kennedy was assassinated on that day in 1963. But, on that same day, just last year, Angela Merkel became the first female Chancellor of Germany. It seems that narrowing our scope can very tangibly effect how we perceive any moment. Does that mean that we should always look at the "big picture"? Maybe we'd feel more balanced. Maybe, we'd just be overwhelmed trying to process so many things. I think we all find our own balance. I'm still working on finding mine. I try to see the "big picture" but risk losing some of the focus on the more immediate. Where do you fit in?

By the way, for those of you trying to look "big picture", the 22nd is also Lebanese Independence Day and the anniversary of the death of Blackbeard the pirate (a good day for law abiding sailors in the Caribbean in the early 1700's but a bad day for Global Warming).

Today's post was brought to you by the letters a-z, the numbers 1, 2, 3, 6, 7, 0, a handful of punctuation and Wikipedia.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

Day of Days

Of all the things that we celebrate, this should be the most important. It is something that touches our lives every day. In fact, if it doesn't we usually start to worry. As something we probably don't want to live without, we still don't like to see too much of it. It is known as "The Great Equalizer". You'll likely spend three years of your life with it. Avoiding it can make you sick. You may be surprised to know that it is considered musical and that most "sing" in the tone of E flat. It is a space where people look for solace, while others share intimate experiences. It shouldn't be but once a year, but yet today is World Toilet Day.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

There is humour out there, in spite of everything... and I just found some

I know, hours have barely passed since I posted about a devastating disease that has touched too many lives and acknowledged the effects it can have on it's victims and their family and friends. But to consider such things is not to give up on the life we lead (as was so effectively highlighted in the Globe).

Maybe, just maybe, if there is any truth to the old adage "laughter is the best medicine" then this might be a good treatment for all of us (at least those who have high speed internet). Having posted a previous video of his I couldn't help but share a few laughs. "Jump in my Car" is an Aussie tour de force by the one and only "Hoff". It starts a little slower than "Hooked on a Feeling" but it's still worth a view. My brother may have done a great job in spoofing the dove "Evolution" ad but the Hoff seems to parody himself. It takes a strong person to do that. Strong, or downright stupid.

Lives (Being) Lived

Earlier this week a friend was mentioning how they enjoy reading the "Lives Lived" section of the Globe and Mail. Morbid curiosity was not the inspiration. Rather, it was the recognition that everyone has lived a life. Some are long and fulfilling. Others we, all too often, feel should have lasted longer.

It was that discussion that came to mind today as I checked the Globe online to find a report about Cancer. In particular, they follow a day in the life of those "dying from and living with cancer". That day was June 15, 2006, almost one year to the day that my grandfather fell victim to cancer. My day has been spent on the mundane tasks of cleaning-up after renovations which can be seen in a positive or negative light. Sure, it is a rare fool that looks kindly on cleaning but it can be seen as a sign of a life of following the path that we had in mind (minus the maid). So it was, that I spent my day cleaning, thinking of my grandfather and reading the stories of June 15.

The introduction explains things well and is an important preview:

"What you are about to read may sadden and disturb you. It may galvanize and inspire you. It is a window into the all-too-common reality of cancer that cries out for understanding."

There is a deep sadness that is inevitably associated with such a topic. But more importantly, it is a frank sharing of lives lived and those still being lived. It too reminds us of all those lives that are associated with the 70,000+ people who die of cancer each year.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Back... And Still Tired

Still back and still tired. Luckily, I'm not still without a kitchen sink. It seemed like I could start cleaning and not risk everything getting dusty again. The good news is that my house will not have been this clean in a long time. Will write more soon. G'night.

Thursday, November 16, 2006

Back... And Tired

Quebec is great! The conference went very well. The weather did not. Nor did the renovations on my apartment. As such, it was not a particularly restful return. Oh well, c'est la vie.

Photos and further stories are forthcoming.

Saturday, November 11, 2006


No, I did not do particularly well on a pop quiz. Instead, I am saying "A plus tard" or "until later". Why the French? Because I'm heading to Quebec City for a conference in less than 10 hours. No more posting 'til I get back (most likely anyway). In the meantime, you should know that the coming week is International Education Week so educate yourself... Internationally to celebrate.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Guiness World Records Day

How was your day? Do anything interesting? Exciting? Did you join the thousands in Paris who were trying to kiss their way into the Guiness Book of World Records? What about the 1715 who "can-can-ed" outside the Hummingbird Centre in Toronto? Zorbing in NZ? Putting rattlesnakes in your mouth in NYC? Perhaps it was joining the undead in the largest "Thriller" dance. I wish I could say that anything I did would put me in a record book, Guiness or otherwise. Not today.

If you're going to do something silly, and we all do silly things, why not get recognized for it? I wonder if I can get recognized for my monkey impressions?

Thursday, November 09, 2006

:) :(

In light of my brother's new-found celebrity (their video has now been viewed 5196 times and discussed on MTV Canada) I am sad to say that my most recent brush with worldwide recognition is a no-go. Some of you might remember about a month ago I mentioned that a nameless magazine (with the name of the New Yorker) had contacted me about publishing one of my photos from Zipolite, Mexico. Well, I was patient, but after a month with no further word I sent an e-mail asking where things stood. Sadly, they went ahead without my photo. It seems they had two from the same area and had to cut one. Mine. In the good column, it was a cool experience and the art director said he'd keep an eye on my work because he found me "so easy to work with." :) Now I just need to get out taking pictures that might be of interest. Clearly I need to go on a trip. ;)

Monday, November 06, 2006


I have dabbled with promoting things to you and I have dabbled with video (Oh Hoff, how you entertain me). Well, now I am going to bring the two together.

As altruistic as the ad may be (and sorry to those without high-speed internet and flash-player downloaded that can't see it, that's you gramma), I am not trying to sell you on anything that Dove does. I do consider this an effective ad, but wouldn't have thought twice about including it in my blog if it weren't for my wonderful and talented brother. You see, he and his friends have adapted that ad to fit their view. I think they've done an AMAZING job which is highlighted by having seen the original. Technically outstanding and thought-provoking to boot.

Sadly, it's not online yet so you'll have to start with the original. The spoof is posted so here it is:

Sunday, November 05, 2006

What Month is This?

Before you ask, I didn't fall victim to a horrible cheese accident that left me in a coma, where upon waking I didn't know who I was or what month it is. In fact, nothing terrible has befallen me at all, unless you include the continued lack of carpet in my living room and tile in my kitchen.

So, back to the month. I know, I know, it's November, right? Wrong! It's Movember. I have The Walrus (not Paul) to thank for drawing my attention to this misunderstanding about our calendar. Movember is the month of the Moustache. Supposedly, we have Australia to thank for the month of Movember. Sure, there's plenty of reason just to celebrate the "lip caterpillar" but they are also using the month as a way to draw attention to male health issues like prostate and testicular cancers and male depression. Movember isn't just a month though, it's also a challenge. Participants have to shave clean at the beginning of the month and "go mo" for the rest of the month. On top of that, they can get donations to support the cause. Awareness. Fundraising. Moustaches. Seems like a great combination. It's not just happening in the rest of the Commonwealth, the Canadian Movember site is focusing their fundraising on the Princess Margaret Hospital (a renowned cancer treatment centre in Toronto).

Now I know I've opened myself to something vaguely troubling. I get the feeling like I may receive a response from my faithful readership asking why I am not asking for sponsorship. Do I consider my work done by drawing attention to this through my blog? Maybe. Could I be convinced to "go mo"? Perhaps. You can be sure that any votes for my participation would have to come along with donations. You know, put your money where my mouth is. I'll mull it over. You do the same.