Tag Archives: oldposterous

Some loose thoughts on the magic of Christmas

When you are very young, Christmas is a magical time. We all know that. But
it is magical when you have children, too, for .then you are the magician.
I realized that the hard age for Christmas is in your 20s. The magic
bypasses you then. No wonder people of that age cut up Christmas. The magic
they once held is lost.

Christmas is magic not because the day itself is magical, but because we
invest the magic that we have within us on that day. It would be better if
we brought forward that magic every day, but one day is better than no
days. We have such, well, .. Magic!..within us. We need to be reminded to
let it out.

(Originally posted on posterous, December 24 2011, 9:24 PM)

My Lessons Learned from Christmas’ past (including where to buy trees in Toronto)

Christmas for me is many things, including an annual exercise in planning. I keep a Word document that I update every year. It contains the typical list of things to do, by when. It tracks cards sent and received, presents given to whom, key dates, even what I need to buy for Christmas Day meal. One other thing I keep is a list of lessons learned. Here’s mine.

  • Christmas planning should start the day after Remembrance Day.
  • Get gifts at the end of November, if possible. It takes time to get
    them, wrap them, send them off.
  • Indigo has lots of gift ideas, not just books. Music, movies, nic nacs.
    Plus, if you shop there early, you can provide gift ideas for others
  • Winners is also good. Future shop (now Best Buy) is better than Toys R Us for electronics for the kids.
  • Get time consuming activities done asap. You have less time in December than you think.
  • Check Canada Post web site for mailing dates. It helps to keep you on track.
  • Get tree on Saturday. While it is settling, put up the lights. On Sunday bring it in and decorate it. It takes time to set it up and decorate and  it is difficult to get done during the week.
  • Get a poinsettia around the same time you get the tree (or much
    earlier). You can get some small plants at the green grocer for $2.99:
    has the same effect as a big one.
  • I used to say: get your tree at Sheridan: It is close, you don’t need a
    car, and the prices are better. But last year a 6′ tree was $60 and a 7′
    tree was $99! And we need a 7′ tree. I called after the fact and the
    Loblaws trees this year were $40 for 6-8 feet. IKEA trees are $20 and you get a coupon for $20 for a purchase of $75 or more.  After that, you can get your tree from Dominion at Bayview/Eg. It
    was better there than Loblaws. Then IKEA last.
  • Use cut off branches from the bottom of the tree to make something to hang on the door. Just add some red ribbon.
  • Plan Christmas spirit events throughout December. Start planning them in November. Besides putting up the tree and Santa, there could be: get a gift for poorer children, Swiss Chalet Festive Special Run
  • Put up decorations outside earlier than you think. Lots of people have them up in the first week of December before it gets too cold
  • Indigo is good for more than books: calendars, DVDs, music CDs,  nicnacs
  • The week before Christmas is busy. Not just with the Xmas activities, but with cleaning, etc. Don’t assume you have time to do much more
  • Playing shinny / going skating daily is a great idea over the Holidays.

(Originally posted on Posterous, December 5 2011, 7:51 AM)

The quality of darkness and the luminosity of winter nights

I like when artists emphasize darkness in photography and film. To me, it is not negative space, but an essential part of the space. Just like all colours are essential parts of a colour photograph, all tones are essential parts of a black and white image to me. If anything, the darker spaces are exciting because they challenge your eye – outer and inner – to see more, to see what is in the darkness and the shadows. What I love about a photographer such as Roy Decarava is how he uses exactly those ideas in his photographs to tell very powerful stories and convey powerful images.

One thing that I don’t like about most movies is that there is rarely any darkness. There is always some light somewhere lighting the protagonists. It’s as if there is a fear that people will complain if they have to use their ears and their imagination. I’d like to see more films where much of it is shot in near darkness such that the audience is more engaged in the film.

There is a quieting aspect to darkness or near darkness. We sleep in that state, or we watch movies or plays or concerts. We become quiet and still. We contemplate, dream, express our inner selves more than we do in the fast paced brightness of day. This is a quality of darkness too.

Looking out on the backyard tonight, what I realized, as I have before, how
it is that ‘dark’ really isn’t once your eyes get used to the light that is there. This is especially the case in winter, when the sky turns light gray with clouds and the fallen snow has a luminosity all of it’s own even without street lights or house lights. If it is snowing it can actually get quite bright, even at midnight, as the snow falls and sparkles. Some nights can be brights as days.

At this time of year in Canada there is also the luminosity of house lights and Christmas trees that shine on as the end solstice nears and Christmas is celebrated. Despite long nights, there is much light.

And as we pass through the bleak midwinter, I like to warm it up with tea
lights and roaring fires. Though it be dark, the darkness is tinged with that glow of burning logs and burning candles. And when finally when all that is spent, I can go to the window and given some time to adjust, my eyes can eventually see much that is visible, though it is very late, for in the darkness there is more light than we may have suspected, and much to see and enjoy.

These are some of the things that I thought of while I looked on the snowfall arriving tonight at midnight.

Thanks for reading this. Enjoy your night.

(Originally posted on posterous, December 15 2010, 9:53 PM)

Some thoughts on memory and winter

There are bad associations with winter. We talk of the dead of winter. Or the bleak midwinter. Plants and trees are barren. Animals hibernate, deathlike. Cold itself, winter’s prime attribute, we associate with the dead. As is the additional darkness that winter throws over us.

Yet these should not be the only associations we come to know of winter. For it is a time of joy and birth and beauty. And though light and heat are scarce, where they are concentrated, they are a treasure.

If spring is a season of rebirth and hope, summer a time of happiness and luxury, while autumn is a time of transition and abundance, then winter is a season of reflection and memory. Winter is a season of the mind. In winter we can look to the trees bare and the frozen earth and recall and imagine the fullness of leaves and grasses and flowers that will arrive in the months to come. Though they are not there yet, we can imagine them still. And in these acts of imagining, we can imagine further as we pass through the snow falling the times past and the times still to come. We can do this in other seasons too, but winter concentrates the mind.

(Originally posted on Posterous, January 18 2011, 10:25 PM)

The rock, the attendant and the vanishing soul: how fathers progress

When I first started off as a father, I was like a climbing rock: durable, constant,  capable of bearing heavy loads.

As my children mature, I find I am more the attendant. I watch their events, I monitor their behavior, I whisk away what is unwanted, be it spiders, dirty dishes, tears, anxiety.

In time they will be independent. I will hover around, like a ghost, a memory, reminding them of what is good in them and their past. I will be there but not there.

This is the life of fathers.
—————–
Written on my BlackBerry Handheld to my old Posterous blog, October 12 2011, 7:34 PM

On ripples in time

If you throw a stone into a lake, the ripples move in all direction. They
move back towards you and forward away from you. If the stone is big
enough, the ripples may disturb something far away from you.

Events are like that too. the event can change how you see the past, and
the event can disturb the future too.

We are constantly throwing stones into Time, constantly disturbing the
surface of it, and changing the réflexion that we see when we look into it.

Three winters (a way to think about the difficult season)

There are three winters within each winter season. The first, early winter, can actually be lovely. The temperatures are cold but not terribly so. Often you can go out with no gloves or hat. If you celebrate Christmas, there is all that to look forward to.

Next comes the bleak midwinter, sometime in January and lasting through until the end of February. This is the cold heart of winter. You need to psychologically strengthen yourself to get through this part, but if you learn how to make the most of it, it passes quickly, like all time.

Finally there is late winter. Winter falters then: days lengthen, ice melts, the earliest of flowers – snowdrops! – appear. You can already taste spring, and summer seems possible and not just a cruel memory.

Winter seems long, but each of the three winters is short. They whip by like speed skaters or tobagganers.

(Originally written on my Blackberry and published on Posterous on December 11 2011, 9:54 PM)

The myth of waste: some rainy Sunday thoughts on awareness redemption imagination + love

wet leaf

Walking out today, I looked down and saw this leaf covered in raindrops. I thought how beautiful it was and how I should take a photo of it. Sadly, this photo doesn’t do it justice.

The way we treat many things in the world, including people, doesn’t do
them justice, either. It often has nothing to do with meanspiritedness. More often it is the case that we are not aware of them, or not aware of the goodness that they possess. Their goodness is wasted in that sense.

Or we lack imagination to see the goodness that is there or how we can appreciate it. In the physical world, I think the notion of waste indicates
a lack of imagination as to how we think of something. We throw it away and
become unaware of it any more, instead of reusing it or recycling it and
making it new and better.

If waste is a lack of awareness and imagination with regard to appreciating
the value in something or someone, love is the opposite. To love something
is to be aware of and see the value in it and to see good qualities
invisible to others. What may be to others a broken old toy destined for
the trash may be to a child the most valuable thing in the world. In
Citizen Kane, the most valuable object ever possessed by the wealthy Kane
was an old sleigh, long gone.

If you are a Christian, you believe in a god who loves everyone and who
believes in your redemption, regardless of your faults and flaws. And as a
Christian, you should aspire to that ideal yourself, regardless of your own
limitations. You should see the value in everyone, including the least of
your brothers. And you should acknowledge your faults and strive to
overcome them.

While you may not be a Christian, the ideal of seeing the value in everyone
is a worthwhile ideal to strive for. Not everyone has the same value, but
no one is without value. No one is a waste.

Likewise with things. There is nothing wasted, though we think it so. Even
the dead are transformed as they decay into something other than they once
were. The leaves become compost, the windfall of orchards become cider, and
the dead animals that fall through force or through nature feed others.
If you donate your organs, others may see things they love with your eyes, and feel your old heart in their chest quicken at the sight of them. Though much is lost, all can be transformed, everyone can be redeemed, and nothing need be wasted.

As always, thanks for reading this.
—————–
Sent from my BlackBerry Handheld to my old posterous blog November 14 2010, 12:09 PM  

We long to be where we are not…

When we are sad, certainly. We long to be in a place where we were happy,
or where we will be happy. It may no longer exist, or it may not yet exist,
but we know that if we were there, a waiter would come by, and hand us a
drink and seat us and we would think: we have arrived at this place where
we were/will be happy.

When we are adventuresome, there is no doubt. When i was younger i listened
to old radios. Cities were painted on the front, and a slight shift of a
dial would take you from London to Dusseldorf to New York. I could travel
from one city to another with a turn of a wheel, and i could imagine being
in front of a radio in a parlour of a house in some great city. Such radios
are antiques now. Instead we travel the world with laptops and browsers and
high speed Internet connections. We scan photos on iphones taken in the
Mumbai dawns or the Palo Alto dusks. We can go anywhere, in a limited way.
We yearn to travel with the ease of the electrons that leave our computers.

Or we may look to the sky and watch planes go by and imagine us in them. Or
we may stand before rivers, stand at edge of oceans and seas, and see
ourselves setting out on boats that take us down stream. Always we are
departing, travelling.

From time to time we will arrive where we are happy, are content. We will
wish to stay there forever or else a very long time. We tie up our boats,
shelve our passports, leave our radios tuned to one station.

when that happens, the song of the Sirens will sing out to us and promise
us lands of even greater happiness. And friends will haul steamer trunks
past our path and speak of great travels they are embarking on. We will
recall that one trip we never found the time to take. That one friend, far
away, we must visit once more. That last pilgrimage.

When that happens, we will once again long to be where we are not. For only
the dead are settled.
—————–
Sent from my BlackBerry Handheld at September 15 2012, 10:50 PM  to my old posterous blog.

On the doors we pass through

When you are younger, there are so many doors you can pass through. They
spread out in front of you. You run in and out of doors. You play with
them. Some doors lead to other doors. Some doors are easy to pass through,
while others need preparation. Yet all doors seem available to you.

Until they are not. Some doors close behind you, and you can no longer go
back. Others will not budge. Men stand guard over certain doors: those you
will never pass through.

You get up every day and pass through doors. Some you pass through often.
Others only once. You can never be certain when a door is one that you will
no longer not pass through. They seem to be ones you can open. Until they
cannot.

Then you get older and you realize that you will have less and less doors
to open. the doors become more precious to open, to close, to handle, to
wonder what changes as you go in or go out.

Doors transform us, identify us, protect us, shut us out. We can stare out
a window and be untouched, but to pass through a door is to make a change.
Even the doors we pass through all the time, for there can be a time when
we say: that’s’enough, i won’t go through there again.

To pass through a door is to say: i am going to do something. I am going to
be different. That is why we like doors when we are younger: doors are
Change. When we get older, we cherish doors because we think: things can
still be different. Or we cherish them because we say: no, things will
never be different despite other changes.

Thanks for reading this. To read it, you clicked on a link that took you to
this page. That link was a door, in a way, too.
—————–
Sent from my BlackBerry Handheld at August 22 2012, 10:35 PM to my old posterous blog.

On the love we waste

We waste our love. We love the wrong people at the wrong time for the wrong reasons. We love people who no longer love us. We love people who never loved us. Crazy people. Calculating people. Frauds. We love them all, and more. We love people for what we thought they were, not what there are. We love shadows. And we love ghosts. Such good love, like gold, tossed into the sea, lost.

But love is not gold. Love is abundant. Like breathes and tears, sweat and blood, we are filled with a wealth of love. We may parcel
it out in a miserly fashion, but love is no more rare than heartbeats.

It is right that love is tied to the heart. If you use your heart, it gets stronger and beats harder and longer. Nothing the heart does is wasted. Even the most useless of exercise benefits the heart, and that strength makes your life better. So too with love. Every time you love someone, something, your heart gets stronger. Life gets better.

Love is never wasted.

Thanks for reading this.
—————–
Sent from my BlackBerry Handheld. Originally posted on Posterous at September 29 2012, 3:56 PM

On avoiding the trap of political outrage

If you are associated with people who are political activists, you will likely be presented with events from time to time and you will be asked  “why aren’t you outraged by this?” It can put you on the defensive. It can make you feel uncaring, selfish, or apathetic. You have to agree that a massacre or child abuse or great poverty is outrageous, and you feel at that moment that a) something should be done and b) you are somehow deficient for not doing something about it.

This is a trap. First off: is there something you can immediately do to stop this? If you can, then do it. Chances are you cannot. So outrage aside, you need to make a plan either to take action in the longer term, or not take action at all. But why would you not take action at all? Simply because there are more terrible things in the world happening than you can possibly tackle. Even if you were to devote your life to them, there would be many many more things you cannot do than you can. You need to have a plan to do what you can.

Feelings like guilt or or pity or outrage may spark you do something. But if things stop there, such feelings are self-indulgent. Instead, pick something that you are motivated to improve and work on.Can you do more? Do more.

Just avoid the trap.

(Originally posted at Posterous on April 24 2011)

 

What computers are doing while you are sleeping

You may think that computers are doing little if anything while you are sleeping. While you are dreaming, you might think, if you think of it at all, computers are sitting mostly idle, running the odd screensaver program, waiting for you to return, your faithful servant.
Of course, some computers, like web servers, could be serving different people. Computers could be handling the requests from people around the world who are awake and working and reading and surfing the web. Some computers handle requests 24 hours a day, rarely having any time to themselves, to reboot, to load new software.They process requests until they are shutdown intentionally or fail dramatically.

But just like your body is resting and your brain is dreaming/sorting things out in the wee small hours of the morning, so too do some computers take the night time to get themselves together. While you are sleeping, they are running backups, processing files they don’t get to process in the daytime, defragmenting their disks, cleaning out their caches and buffers. Many computers have utility roles, doing a myriad of tasks you can only imagine. Plus for every set of computers handling your requests, there are entirely different sets of machines that check and make sure that the machines you use are working properly.
If the earth can be said to be automatic, so too can it be said of the many thousands of computers that are running while you are sleeping, running to keep the world running in the 21st century.

And I have thought of all this while I test run batch programs on a set of test computers during the graveyard shift, in order to insure that the real computers that we run can handle the volume of requests that the real (not test) computers will eventually have to handle. For in my case, what computers are doing while you are sleeping are helping me do my job successfully which will help you in ways you don’t even know (not only, but partially, because you are sleeping)

(Originally posted on posterous, July 21 2010).

Memory, space and time and the redrawing of a line

thebloor

Tonight I went back and retraced activities in places from long ago. I went
to the Annex in Toronto and walked around Harbord Street and Bloor Street,
had a massive wiener schnitzel meal at Country Style and then went to see
Jonathan Demme and Talking Heads great concert film, Stop Making Sense.
These are things I used to do often many many years ago, for the theatre
that showed the film, the Bloor Cinema, used to play the film at least once
a month in the mid 80s, it seemed. I lived near it then, and whenever I had
nothing to do, I might grab some Hungarian food – for Bloor Street had a
lot of Hungarian places then – and enjoy that film.

If you are wise, you will have places that are memory touchstones for you,
places that you can revisit, that will be like a cache of good memories.
Like any good cache, you can draw upon them as needed by going there
whenever you needed to be refreshed and rejuvenated. I recommend you
cultivate such places, places that you may not visit often but that are
accessible whenever you are in need. A wise person also has such stores to
get them through the leaner parts of life. Or perhaps you can look at them
more optimistically and treat them like a rare wine cellar which you dip
into every so often for that great bottle to enjoy and to remember.

Last week I watched a video of a line being retraced. As it was retraced
over and over, each new line varied more and more from the original until
the later lines were quiet different than the original. Still, there was
that resemblance, that connection through time. So to tonight, when I was
revisiting my old neighborhood, I could still feel some of the same things
I felt many years ago, even though much has changed and I am no longer the
same in many ways. For though much has changed, many more things in the
places and the food and the theatre and the film, even myself…many things
have remained the same. The line redrawn tonight had enough points in
common with the lines I would often draw many years ago.

Memory is often thought of as a picture, or a storage cabinet, but memory
may be like a flower. A flower, a rose perhaps, red, white, perhaps even
tea stained, that opens up in the early morning just as you are walking by,
walking in that distracted way we all walk when we are in a hurry to
complete the ordinary, when out of the edge of our vision we see its
vividness and are drawn to come closer and soak up the smell of it and
perhaps even mistakenly catch ourselves on its thorns. Memories may not be
passive things like files or photos. Memories may engage us and transfix
and transform us, much like the rose that waves at us as we stroll by on
what would otherwise by an ordinary day in our life.

We should cultivate the moments in our lives like the gardener cultivates
her rose garden, for those moments will be our memories, our roses.
—————–
Posted on my Posterous blog at February 23 2011 via my BlackBerry Handheld.

The beauty of night rain (insomnia tales)

Since I was a small child, I loved the night rain. I was likely 3 and I
remember listening to car tires hissing on rainy roads, and I would wait
for the sound of my parents car to return from their night out.

In Dustin Hoffman’s “Tootsie”, Bill Murray has a great scene describing how
he’d love to have a movie theatre that shows films on rainy nights. I
thought then and I still think how perfect that would be. To be wandering
aimlessly in the night rain and to come across a theatre showing a great
film for a rare showing. The solace and shelter and beauty of the cinema on
a rainy night would be wonderful.

When I was in college, there we no such theatres. But it rained often in
Halifax, and I would wander through the rainfall and window shop tucked
away magazine stores and diners with warm and dry and well fed patrons,
none of which I was. There was no solace then, save that of the enjoyment
of the beauty of the night rain. But later on there would be money and
women to press against while huddled under umbrellas, and the night rain
would lend itself to the promise of love and happiness.

Much weather of all sorts can bring back memories, but rainy night, mild
nights, bring back the most for me.

Thanks for reading my insomnia tales as I try to fall asleep

(originally posted on Posterous, June 23 2011. Written on my Blackberry)