Curiosity is terminal

Wednesday, 24 December 2014

Merry Christmas

I know, I know.  It's been a long time between posts.  I've been a bad blogger.  Its been an interesting year, which I'll maybe write about as it actually ends.

Tonight though, I just want to share something from the CBC, (which is also having an interesting year).  I have been listening to CBC Radio for many years.  I have enjoyed some changes more and some less over the years, but I have pretty much always liked As It Happens.  Every year I look forward to hearing Alan Maitland read "The Shepherd."  This year (maybe for the first time?) they linked it on their website.  If you have never heard it, it's a good Christmas ghost story.  I recommend it highly.

Merry Christmas.

Sunday, 28 September 2014

I Have to Laugh, Otherwise I Would Cry

Paul Calandra has been making an especial ass of himself in Parliament.  He has been criticized and raked over the coals, and he has cried in Parliament while giving Canadians a non-apology.  It is to cry.  However, someone out there has the right idea.  Wikipedia now tells all the world that 
Paul Calandra (born May 13, 1970) is a Canadian clapping seal. He was elected to act like a petulant teenager on behalf of the electoral district of Oak Ridges—Markham in the 2008 Canadian federal election
In the event that the clapping seals and their adolescent minions find and edit that entry, I have taken a shot of it to preserve for indefinite entertainment.

And also for your reading pleasure, I give you Scott Feschuk  in McLean's with "Harper to world: We are angry, and we have adjectives."
"In his speech, the Prime Minister had a lot of harsh words for a lot of people. Harsh words for the Russian president. Harsh words for Islamic State fundamentalists. Harsh words for those who would oppose Israel, or fail to sufficiently support Israel, or ever raise any question about Israel. (Imagine how irked he’d be at those who’d dare misspell Israel.)Responding to overseas conflict, Harper’s declarations were amped up and unequivocal. This, for example: “We will not rest until the people of Ukraine are free to choose their own destiny.” But let’s be honest with ourselves: We’re resting. Plenty of talk, some sanctions, but otherwise: totally resting.Would we like Ukraine to be free? You bet. Are we willing to fire off some high-calibre adjectives? Absolutely. But let’s not pretend Vladimir Putin is standing over a military map, pushing his pieces around and thinking to himself: “I seek the prize of Crimea—but dammit, those feisty Canadians are holding the northern front with an entire battalion of empty threats!” "

Cheer up, fellow sane Canadians.  You are not alone.  Try to laugh about it. Surely we are on the upswing.   

Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Just Wondering

Why don't we start a new federal political party on the left (really on the left)? Have you heard of Indiegogo? GoFundMe?  I bet we could fund it in a week.

Monday, 7 July 2014

The Boss, Avec Strings

I'm not sure if the strings are violin or viola, but someday I want to play this.

Sunday, 23 March 2014

Sunday Morning Surreal Nonsense

So my beloved was looking for a broadcast of Stuart McLean this morning.  He was clicking on all the regional stations that are now available everywhere and cycling through the last bits of news. I was playing with the kitten with half an ear on it all, and what with the surfing, what I heard was just nonsense.  I heard part of the tail end of a report about a pallet having been found, and part of the end of a report about someone doing a job in cabinet temporarily.
In the way of those wonderful half-baked dreams we sometimes have as we drop off to sleep, I was now plagued with questions about why a pallet was performing in cabinet (and thinking that a pallet would be preferable to polivere), and what the pallet had against permanent work, and whether it was elitist to think that a pallet was not really the best choice of materials for a cabinet.  And then I considered that many pallets are made from quite nice hardwoods and perhaps this was a good example of up-cycling.
I don't have a very clear picture of what is going on in the world at the moment though.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

It's Minus Thirty in Atmon, But I Feel Fine...

It's been between -25 and -30 at night for the last few days.  I sort of like the extreme cold for a little while.  It makes -20 feel much warmer when we get back there, and -10 is practically tropical.  That's a summertime picture of my yard,  by the way, not a wintertime one.  My camera is quite persnickety about the cold.  Also, winter tends not to be picturesque right here downtown.  

Its funny how not much really changes.  Our country still seems to be run by liars and scumbags.  Also our province and quite a few of our towns and cities.  I may not have been writing, but I have been making myself disagreeable to all the "conservatives" I know and work with.  I am even swaying them a little bit.  Actually, I have not been doing it by being disagreeable.  I have been being quite kind and patient.  I'm well aware that I'm not going to win converts by first telling them what a bunch of selfish creeps and bastards they are.  

So I have been depressed.  I mean beyond the fact that loggers are mulching bears in our forests, we have killed off a bunch of starfish and the black rhino, the industrial pollution machine is cranked into high gear and the olympics are in Russia where its state sanctioned fun is beating up gays. 

I have been depressed for as long as I can remember.  I've been medicated a couple of times for it, and if it ever gets that bad again, I could be again.  But medication, after a length of time, just makes me numb, and frankly, that's worse.  I am no longer a danger to myself, but only because I have nearly 40 years of experience with this.  It passes. I know this about myself  now and I wait it out.  What I don't do is ask for help.  Now.  I would not necessarily say others shouldn't ask for help, but I never will again.  Why not?  Because 8 years ago I took a lot of codeine.  It was The Offspring who caught me and made her dad take me to emergency.  (I know I did a terrible thing to her and there is no way to make it right.) In emergency, the nurses treated me like I was a great waste of time, which is why I didn't ask for help in the first place, and the doctor asked me if I had a job.  When I confirmed that I did, he said, pointing at the offspring and her dad, "you have a family who love you and a job.  You have no reason to be depressed. Go home and behave."  

I have had everything tested that could be tested.  I used to have a fun old British doctor who tried to get to the bottom of this. There is nothing wrong with me.  I am in robust good health.  One time he quoted this at me in his fine accent:
"I only drink Champagne when I'm happy, and when I'm sad. sometimes I drink it when I'm alone. when I have company, I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I am not hungry and drink it when I am. otherwise I never touch it - unless I'm thirsty" 
Wikipedia tells me Lily Bollinger said that, but Doc told me at the time that it was Madame Cliquot.  I asked him if he was prescribing me champagne, and he said with a shrug that maybe it wouldn't hurt. I am sure some people would think that was irresponsible, but I mostly thought it was funny, and funny kind of gets me through.  Another time, after a round of tests and even checking for sleep apnea, when he told me I seemed most peculiarly healthy, I said to him, "so its really just all in my head?"  He kind of nodded at me but then he laughed when I asked if we could cut off my head.  

He retired without saying goodbye a few years ago and I have a nice new doctor who came to Canada from somewhere hot and this is his first winter here.  I don't know him very well on account of I have only been to see him once.  After we talked about the pulled muscle in my foot, I grilled him a little bit about who he was and how he liked Atmon, and I wound up encouraging him to try snowshoeing.  He is younger than Doc D was, but he has a sign in the office that says something about the patient eating a proper diet and getting enough exercise and quitting smoking will do more for the patient's health than the doctor can, which makes me kind of think he will not regard my desire to shuffle off as a mystery that he would like to work on with me.  

Anyways I'm okay again.  I had a flu right after Christmas and I came out of it feeling like the first growth after a forest fire. That means I felt really quite alive and fine, if you have no idea what the hell I am talking about.  (Maybe the darkness in Atmon's winter has something to do with it.  On December 21, the sun didn't rise till 8:33 and it set again at 3:46.  Today it rose at 7:45 and won't set till 5:05.) I didn't take any classes in September.  The Offspring is graduating from the Furthest-Away-From-Home University in Canada in April and I am saving my money to take my partner and my mom and my sister and niece and The Offspring's dad along for the occasion. But my brain really missed school, and I missed young thoughtful people and so I am taking a film studies class this semester.  I also just finished another manual at work and it was kind of a struggle, but it's done and out of my hair and I feel like breathing about that too.  And I taught myself to play 4 lines of the Ode to Joy, and I play it whenever I feel down, and sometimes I think it sounds okay and I am happy and sometimes it sounds like I should quit already with the damned violin, and I hang the stupid fiddle up and do something else for a while, but then it calls me and I try again. And maybe that is a fine metaphor on which to end.  I hear a fiddle... 

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Just Musing...

The offspring called yesterday for advice.  It is blizzarding at her end of the country and she had a door that had stopped latching properly  "What is a quick fix?" she asked me.  We discussed the problem and I had her look at the door to see just what was and was not happening.  The answer for the moment  was just to move the strike plate.  It might have been necessary to shim the hinges too.

I began to wonder about the ways I could help people with that kind of thing - not doing people's odd jobs, but teaching them how to do them  themselves.  I also wondered why I hadn't thought about it before.

I grew up with mechanically inclined parents.  They just did stuff.  My dad is a carpenter, and there was a wood shop in the basement all my life.  He wired and plumbed the house he built and he always let us help with whatever was going on.  My mom sewed and she could design clothes at the drop of a hat and while she never actually did any kind of art herself, she filled the house with art supplies and she encouraged all kinds of sculpture and papier mache and what have you.  She was a great designer of dioramas for school. For 17 years I lived with a man who was a mechanic, auto body restorer and welder.  He taught me bits and pieces of all those things. It never occurred to me that I couldn't learn to do things.

It took me a long time to discover what a gift this was.

A few years ago I was going to a knitting group and one of the members was learning to sew. I remember one of them showing me a pattern for a bag she wanted to make.  She was utterly baffled by the pattern.  How on earth were those pieces going together?  As we talked about it, I realized that the ability to see how things go together, and to look at an object and understand how its components are shaped was not something that came to all of us naturally.

Shortly after the conversation with the offspring, I mentioned the idea of helping people learn this stuff to a co-worker.  He is a handy guy.  He is trained as a welder, and he does his own repairs and maintenance at home too.  He grew up with parents, grandparents and aunts and uncles like mine. He was the kind of kid who took his bike apart just to see how it went together.  He has a girlfriend who has never had that kind of experience;  she thinks she can't do "that stuff." He is flummoxed by this because he is quite in love with her, and he thinks she is really wonderful and remarkable, but he has always thought of people who can't do "that stuff" as stupid.  He doesn't think his girlfriend is stupid, and he is wrestling with this dissonance.  We talked about the ability to see things in their components and to understand the way objects can come to be, and how not all people can see this.  "Its physics!" he said to me, "everyone has to take some physics in school! How can they not see how things work?" My answer was that not everyone can translate basic high school physics from the boring (to some) basics into real world applications.  I personally had a few teachers who presented their subject in a vacuum, as if it had no other reason for existence.  My co-worker said he could not get his head around the idea that there were different ways of seeing.  (I argue with this guy about politics all the time.  He is a bootstrap kind of dude and thinks the Canadian dream is the same and equally attainable for all.)  Except that by the end of the conversation, he had said the word empathy and was looking thoughtful.

Over at Sooey Says, there is a conversation going on in the comments about whether homelessness is a choice and about the closing of mental health facilities.  Someone said the homeless are sick and should be institutionalized, and someone else asked if sociopaths shouldn't be institutionalized too?  Mike Harris, Gordon Campbell and Ralph Klein were all mentioned as having done more to marginalize people.

(Aside:  I am sick of the words left and right wing, liberal, progressive and conservative.  I don't think any of those words is big enough to contain anyone and they have come to be mainly insults from each direction.  They are words that allow us to dismiss one another.)

I have been thinking all night about different vision.  I have always thought this planet is Babel, that we all speak a slightly different language and that the point of our existence is to learn to speak to one another and to be understood.  (I don't mean language as in English or French or Swahili - I mean the way that we individually express ourselves.  I can speak English to my English-speaking partner and have him not understand a word I am saying ) I have always wondered about the relationship of language and thought. Do different languages cause us to think differently?  Now I wonder about the relationship of vision (is perception a better word?) and language.  If we all perceive the world slightly differently and we express ourselves and behave according to that perception, could part of  the difficulty be an inability to understand this difference.  Could it be that we don't realize there is a difference?

I'm still thinking about this.

Oh! Happy New Year.