5 Dec 2014, 11:27am
Ponderings
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On and Off

Did you know there’s a Lindt store open at Landsdowne park now? It’s been open two months. Not that they’re chocolate. They’re more chocolate coloured candy. But still,

I bought the Soma hot chocolate mix but it is an art beyond my reach to make as perfect of chocolate shot at home. Their version,

chocolate shot
Around noon the next Eaten Up pops up. It is an all-chocolate post.

The food blog, incidentally now runs Monday to Friday as I scaled it back last year after running it daily since 2006.

Those who don’t know history are condemned to repeat it. Unfortunately that doesn’t carry over to repeating successes. The New Republic after 100 years aims to be the next buzzfeed. Writers and editors quitting en masse results.

Social media is hard in that it is visible. It’s quick access cuts both ways. In person and slow-social can get deeper understanding once there’s too much data to parse. Quick-zip access to people can be insightful of tick-making but tends to have high noise.

While recording your life happens, even when you can dance like no one’s watching, and when no one is watching, people can come back years after the fact. But that’s the problem with the future, isn’t it. It has more time to crunch data and presupposes in the past we had that data to work with. Values and therefore filters of the salient change.

Once things are recorded, they are still ephemeral. Some massive Big Borther may save everything but with Big Brother motivation, fast as computers are, and as heavily staffed as it could be, it would be faster just to make stuff up, skew to skewer. Who fact checks after all?

If you disappear without a trace into the Atlantis world of off-line, there’s no data. You may hear someone saw someone months ago. But basically they step outside of existence. There’s only so many people you can keep track of and keep in touch with.

This all makes people seem more ephemeral. (Therefore cherish people you get to see in your everyday because they are disappearing, surely, just as new people appear.)

Twenty years later someone may reappear in the flesh. But likely not to stay.

The number of whole entire complete parallel lives and cultures always mind boggles. Healthy or unhealthy, whole systems that don’t crash nor become rockets. Perfectly sustainable one foot after the other.

I can hardly bridge one morning to the next of myself and I’ve been here the whole time. What all have I missed? The amount of disconnect of the daily, the hourly, the minute to minute seems to make a chasm that can’t be bridged. And yet people have some carry-overs, some constancies. Some continuity that isn’t projection of a constellations into their moving stars.

Maybe not seeing one another one feels there was never separation because there was mutual fondness sent out the the universe. There was a willingess to reunite, even if, bitter bitter herb, neither cared enough to bother to try. You do what you can.

Online can give a false sense of intimacy. As well as a true growing closer. People gravitate towards those on the same reactivity. Those they can hear clearly and hear not at all.

A caveat or mercy is that in text, markers of good will can be contrived. It is easy to be kind, in the abstract. Or mean I suppose according to one’s habit.

But in either case true telltales can be tucked away. One instant of face-to-face chemistry can blow that all away. Intense affection or…nada.

All the make nice or make sparring was so much thumb twiddling.

snow
Where to get a clear vantage point?

Online presents a different set of constraints.

If you are visible somewhere someone can be be injured at being lower priority, or feel a pecking order. It’s frustrating to be shut out.

As in, what you haven’t answered my email and yet you are evidently not dead? But you have time for _____ and _____.

And each blank can be weighed against jealousy. Cat video more important than me. News story more vital than me. Going to such-and-such. Reading such-and-such. Talking with that person. Or that one.

Maybe the person feeling like an unequal half of the relationship is gaslighting themselves, being their own in-house crazy maker as ascribing injury and lack of caring.

Maybe it’s a stage of asking for what you want rather than passively accepting the fortunes of time that people drift.

the case of the subway horse
It can be the case of the disappearing subway horse.

One is an agent in one’s own life. And yet sometimes it’s not working. Chasing is breaking and wasted energy. How to discern a correct reading of the big picture?

Downgrading aspects of life to “a thing” rather than “a telltale thing” is generally a healthy thing. Sometimes telltales are useful. Is there a pattern that can be refined or fixed?

If jealousy, fear and frustration get to narrate they throw on more significance than there is. They would make it hurtful on purpose therefore urge the outer human to jet off to self-protect. But what part of self should write the speculative narrative of motivations of others?

Every life has busy phase and slower phase and hermit phases. It may not be personal. It may not be articulable.

Some relationships in passing are valuable, internalized, but won’t last long. Some relationships are slow waves with occasional contact, some frequent but shallow. Some have dormancy that take years to sprout.

  
6 Oct 2014, 12:02pm
Citizenship Equity Ponderings
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What my Canada would look like once it gets done

A minimum standard of living guaranteed. If the system isn’t trying to trick you, then people don’t need to scheme back to get through its loopholes.

Call me a dreamer but I’d like to see a safety net of basic living wage where the objective of the system is not to drum people out or make hoops to prove they are trying to learn a skill, a language, or get a job. Cooperation rather than presuming only those who don’t need it won’t sign up and those who would cheat would. What does the person need from the width of the system? What other parts of the person need to also be prioritized?

A network of quality of life of public water fountains, bathrooms, public showers, heated indoors spaces without programming. Shelters which are guaranteed no questions asked without religious indoctrination as fee. Signs of washrooms for patrons only all over the city is hostile and miserly. The only option of sugar drinks, caffeine drinks or plastic bottled water is unnecessary.

A culture where cycling and walking is the default. A habit of people dancing and exercising in the parks and squares.

Well-being embedded in schools and the everyday. To train citizens on conflict resolution, compassion, principles of logic, numeracy/budgeting, and the nature and biology of hundreds of species.

Funding to cover and easy access to dentistry for life, physiotherapy, abortion, therapeutic massage, autism programs, medicines, home help support for seniors, and counselling for mental health issues. Funding for faster on demand service. If a pet needs an MRI, it happens that week. A person with compromised health may wait months. There’s a bottleneck that could be addressed.

Two years of paid maternity and paternity leave. Universal childcare. Recognition of the fluidity of family where a child is raised somewhere in the extended family or step-family or can be adopted with more ease.

One system of education, public. Or two, public and privately funded, whether elite, science, arts, or based on religious or linguistic lines. Earlier apprenticeship. Some children are held in the school system past the point of use. If cultural principles aren’t across by age 13 or 14, another few years won’t help. Options for all children to learn hands on skills in any field.

Suffrage for children. Voting by age 10 so that they don’t spend their first 20 years exiled from having a say and being sub-citizens.

Continued budget for measuring things: the full census, status of women, the polar measurements, the assessing of state of water and ocean.

A culture propelled by curiosity. Research for its own sake to learn in field biology, astronomy, other hard sciences, art, social criticism and literature.

Top-down and bottom-up controls on sound. Mandated enforced sound pollution laws so that planes and busses and motorcycles and etc, all run at lower volumes. What can be done for the engine design and tire design. Air shows, fireworks, music concerts. We are overcompeting for noise we don’t even care about while drowning out other species that need to use sound for communication and finding mates.

Light pollution control. There’s no reason lights need to blaze while businesses are closed. Rollback the culture of always-on to presume 6 weeks of universal paid vacation. Leading up to new years might be good. That way the consumer mania of Christmas could be tempered.

There has to be a certain amount of top-down or else people will continue using toxic but cheap paints, importing tomatoes and apples from Brazil and Mexico during peak tomato and apple harvest season here from economic contracts with corporations ahead of getting the freshest food to the nearest person.

Protecting lakes from factory effluent to motorboats that leak petroleum that isn’t maintained. A conscientiousness of citizens.

Should the state get out of the business of marrying? Naturally, but if in it, it should marry whoever wants to pay the licence, regardless of gender. Three or four marrying if they choose.

A habit of gender neutral names, an animate gender neutral pronoun as default, a shift in ingrained assumptions of gender so people enter careers independent of gender baggage.

What to do with religions? China and Russia have had limited success in reenculturating to non-superstitious minds. Luck is a pervasive thought-gnat. Our brains are pattern seeking. How to tilt them towards a Carl Sagan balance?

What to do with the 88 languages and the cultures tethered to them and what they have to say about what the world is?

What to do with gun lobbyists and those who want a model of “strongest surviving” and justify bullying in all forms as a symbol of strength? What to do with dissent in all forms? How to respect the disrespectful? How to nudge those who celebrate brokenness into considering less violence?

What to do with the fisheries? Or general natural resources exploitation that is major industry, the mines that poison waters and the forestry pressed on as market demands toilet paper to printer paper that isn’t post-consumer fibre?

What to do with Quebec and its history? Regarding natives? What to do with nation versus international? The continued mass consumption of the U.S. media? We can’t be safely blissfully oblivious to trends there and people are one people moving through these lines we draw. Some Canadians are also American, half time or have family in various countries.

What elements have I missed?

  
10 Sep 2014, 12:23pm
General Ponderings
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The Economics of our Built Systems

While waiting for godot-transpo, I ended up walking 20 minutes since there was a longer wait than that between connecting busses.

It’s interesting walking with a device. It’s like a tricorder to reveal all the invisibles. I names and places put to wifi signals, like HappyAlphabet, BadAstronaut, AnLEDSign, and Password is Password. As Snowclone-a-Minute might put it if the bot were interactive: “Crouching messes, hidden insisting”.

climate change protest
Corrective graffiti on Bank Street.

It’s a bit hard to make out but over the words “Quality Moments” is written “Climate Change”

Our society is like an alcoholic with a cirrhosis that continues to drink.

I presume it was a car ad but I didn’t glance down. Looks like one.

We never need to get advertised at to buy commodities, potatoes, carrots, etc, yet there’s a constant push to try to induce appetite for cars and other luxury goods.

What does it mean about need that supersized farms have costs that make them band together and advertise as lobbies? Egg marketing, pork producers. The aim is to raise consciousness for the general idea. Now that pulled pork is ubiquitous on menus, there’s a virus going thru U.S. pig herds that causes almost 100% mortality in piglets. It can’t hop to humans and hasn’t made it into Canadian-traded animals.

Farming is a complex economic juggle, heavily subsidized since Canadians want one thing from their food it seems: cheapness. Price as the main thing create brutal situations. Cattle prices fell while feed prices rose, so it became expensive to keep the cattle. So some farmers culled. Smaller herds, higher demand, and vagaries of market ask for a higher price except now demand outstrips supply and there’s no way to make an animal breed faster. Gestation is gestation. Maybe for a tool you can build another factory, import more workers, get a supply chain of materials rerouted to respond quickly but 9 months and a week to make a new calf.

Really absurd practices reign of treating lives like inanimate goods. Even inanimate goods shouldn’t be destroyed en masse if there’s a market glut. Yes, it corrects the supply and demand but it disrespects the energy, lives and materials it took to make the widget, or life.

If we see a product as a commodity we don’t care who made it or where it came from. One material is interchangeable with another like cash or gasoline, rice, coal, soybeans, silver. There’s no intimate relationship to the source. The general idea is pitched.

Are books unditinguished commodities? In genre is one looking for the next Harlequin? When it’s pulp fiction when readers consume many books by cowboy genre, or thriller, romance, werewolf, do they act like commodities?

Is poetry like that?

When we have a luxury item or some good with product differentiation it is all about the distinguishing features, the niche, the quality or timing, place, availability, distinct aspects.

Many literary especially small press publishers seem to pitch their books as if commodities. This is the book. This is the price. There’s no excerpt, no reviews, no indication except title and author of what the niche or distinguishing features might be. This is at odds with their nature.

What to do with a cover information alone? If there’s only the cover to go on, it limits the market to someone who knows the author by name, or already knows enough of the press by other means to want to buy anything coming from the editor’s aesthetic. Or, as on twitter the dead author [Sep 4] quipped, “Show me on the book cover where you stopped reading.”

  
4 Aug 2014, 12:28pm
Personal Growth Ponderings
4 comments

Family

statues
The bust which I bought from my aunt’s estate auction has sat on my desk or nearby since the mid-80s. She lived at my aunt’s house which was full of art. Glass tables supported by elephants. Gilded framed of fox hunt. A mantle clock with brassy people who turned a dance at the hour. Side tables stacked with National Geographic and travel magazines. Dressers full of lace, buttons, craft materials. A black and white photo on the wall was of her in nurse uniform after WWII. Another photo was of one of her husbands. That was revealed to me in a hushed tone as if there was something wrong with remarrying. She once was a divorcee.

Her cupboards that were empty except for fancy plates, decorative cups and, occasionally, a box of crackers and a box of tea. She ate out every meal. The fridge was empty every time except for root beer or pink cream soda which she bought for the occasion of my visit.

aunt aunt
I don’t have much memory of my first 20 years. Mom’s photo album had this of my aunt hugging me. The only picture I know where I’m being hugged by family.

I remember that aunt dying while I was in primary school but apparently there’s fuzz on my memory. Her estate auction after she was hospitalized with strokes causing paralysis and aphasia in a city a couple hours away. Dad couldn’t bear hospitals, or elevators, or upper floors and this was all 3. He got bad panic attacks. He’s go all waxy and shaky. When we did see her he’d make it upstairs then need to bail to a lawn where he could breathe.

Funny, all the years we were in our parallel panic attacks and private depressive funks. We could have talked, helped each other. But we were both in shame and hiding such “weakness”.

“We should have noticed
the field under
winter’s abundance”
Fernand Ouelette, Hours (Guernica Editions)

I don’t know how to set down the burdens of guilt of all the help I omitted to give him. When he was kicked by a cow, his leg swollen, purpled o-shape on his shin, the bone bruised, did I even offer to shovel out the barn? Why didn’t I insist and take over so at least he could rest or so we could do it faster together?

The barn was his solitude time, and I didn’t want to intrude. I wanted my dignity of privacy for my down cycles and wanted to give him his. And he was emphatic that I was not to associate with farming life. He wanted to push me past him to an easier life. People can only get ahead if they have an advantage passed on from the generation before. He didn’t want me to lose the advantage by throwing his savings down a money pit of agriculture.


8 years ago I put a slideshow of him. Why didn’t I record his voice? He waved off the camera. His outside jarred against his idea of himself.

I had to shoot it furtively, and cut out the sharp looks of is that thing pointed at me? Somehow image becomes word and past becomes present becomes past.

Still, what did I miss out on? If there’s a lesson, it’s that I should be less polite, press myself towards those I am fond of while people are still around.

Why didn’t I ask more questions? He’d get gruff and flustered and mad. He was painfully shy at times. He seemed to want to not contaminate me with himself and his ideas. He was frustrated that he couldn’t shake off ideas he was told in his youth but thought ideas should die with him. Like orangeism. He even had an ambiguous relationship to god. He secretly read a prayerbook for the last couple years, returning to the faith of his youth that he never spoke of.

I was in my own vortexes. Can I say I accept that I did what I could with what I had to work with at the time? He knew some of what I knew. We had no animosity between us.

I think I think in a medium of words but most of the time we spent together was in silence. We played rummy, checkers or parallel solitaire on Saturday nights. He drank his 5 star slowly, I drank cola until it was flat. We saw if we could eat a third of a gallon of ice cream or more, me getting more of the proportion of chocolate in Neapolitan and him getting more of a proportion of the strawberry that he preferred. We went halves on the vanilla that neither of us much cared for. Mom sat in the corner reading her harlequin in conscientious objection to the presence of cards and alcohol. A few times a year she might be persuaded to join a game of snakes and ladders.

There is no analogous thing to family. Friends are family you choose but they often aren’t integrated. They are special events. Unless you live in a commune you see them rarely. They aren’t in the orbit of daily. You don’t get the thick data of their private selves. It is a jerky slideshow more than a plotless ambient movie.

  

War(nings) & Peace

It’s true about the squeaky wheel. What a wonderful slide of silence that the laundry line makes.

duck
Everything is training. Even for birds.

begging duck
At a beach where people know not to feed the seagulls, the seagulls sit indifferent to people, but the ducks have learned to beg. Is anything nature at all?

duck
Duck awaits your reply.

fields
And the soybean grows, indifferent.

balancing stones, Ottawa
A stone balances unless acted on by an outside force. Our outside forces are internalized and one never knows when they’ll reanimate.

Our country — and by that I mean more confederacy of many groups and millions of individuals, living at least some of their time in a region, governed by some overlapping laws — used to commemorate soldiers on November 1st and recite “lest we forget, never again” and speak of peace and the grief that visits generation after last, the devastation if things escalate too far.

Now we have a new narrative pushed forward, more war monuments, more reenactments. Instead of a memory tree for a life loved we have a story of two complicit with bolstering the idea of nation founded in war with symbolic water from each ocean and dirt from where a battle was. I don’t even want to point to the story.

6 months ago our Museum of Civilization with a mandate to educate on the history of the human story got it’s mandate narrowed to Canada as the Museum of History.

The Museum of War and Destruction in its new location features “adventure games” for kids. Those are not about discovering Quaker principles, I’m speculating.

Some naively believe we have, roughly speaking a free press, and are distinct from North Korea. We have an affluent western life, but so did Iran before religious police took hold. What information are we missing? As I write I dislike contained narratives but want to break the 4th wall, see what outside the frame complicates the picture. There are always many parallel world going on.

Rapides Deschênes
Rapides Deschênes is another look at the city. A froth of boiling water and signs to say don’t swim.

Aylmer
Minutes away, water as still as that is twisting. The other still froths. While it froths, this still rests.

We are tethered to world economy and should it dive, there are predictable results, a them and us mentality increasing, finding ways to create Others, hardening new imaginary boundaries and history for gender and sexuality, a closing against intellectual and art and disability, a dehumanizing categorically. It does not take long for a zeitgeist of paranoia to sweep people. Media is short-sighted to play at giving attention to stories of our military legacy. In under a decade a story of the times is all a child knows unless people are actively teaching to counter.

It reminds me of being in the countryside near the border of Quebec. At the campfire someone from the circle went to throw in a plastic bottle. His hand was stopped. One shouldn’t burn plastics. The thrower said it is one bottle and does’t make a difference. The person who stopped him said everything makes a difference. Then mused that being here seeing all these stars in such pure air, it’s hard to believe there could be pollution anywhere.

Down in the beach this week some youths were throwing water balloons. As they played a woman with a stoop and a cane came with her wicker bag, opened it, took out a stool, stepped out of her brown skirt and green shirt and folded them carefully and put them in her bag which she hung from a tree. In her shorts and tshirt she sat with her cane leaned beside her. The kids continued to play and one running backward nearly tripped on her and the water balloon splashed the older woman. The girl apologized and the old woman smiled and waved it off. After all the balloons splashed, the young woman came back and combed the beach, ordering her friends to do the same. We have to find all the pieces or the birds will eat them! And her friends diligently went and picked up balloon parts as well.

As I sit her a wasp flies by and then hovers. I go to look and it is partly caught in a spider’s web. Spiders need to eat too but I release the wasp. It’s hard to believe that there is anyone who does not want peace but some people are shit rakers and will do anything to avoid boredom or to get excitement, believe all acts are governed by fate and free choice is an illusion.

There are forces bigger than us and the system binds as well as has leeway of choice. What will predicate what? We work partly blind.

balancing stones, Ottawa
Stone creatures may walk in ice before the ice knocks them flat.

What will animate and what stays innocuous and resolves itself like fog’s blindness?

fog
Do early risers get to see this often?

I realize how rarely I see 5-6 a.m. Only on nights when my body skips sleep entirely do I see those hours, and by then it’s usually occupied and writing, unconscious of the world outside.

  
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