Wednesday, December 24, 2008
Sunday, December 21, 2008
I'm a lifelong Trekkie. I partly blame my mom. She would not tolerate rivals, and Star Trek rivalled her for my attentions. So she planned dinner to start ten minutes before the finale. Ten minutes to six. She would trot up to the television and turn it off, "Dinner's ready." I'd thought for many years that it was terribly inconvenient that television programming did not accommodate people's dinner schedules. It only dawned on me many years later that mom planned dinner hour on purpose to mess with my schedule. All those missing finales, they left their mark. I'm never sure when I watch a re-run if I've seen the whole thing through. So I set myself down, even today, to revel in the pleasure of a finished story.
The paper-back sections of the public library similarly leave me with trailing ends. I admit, I'm trolling the science fiction section. Especially in SF, it seems, authors get themselves a series going. It must be a great deal of work manufacturing entire worlds and civilizations. It is a terrible waste to use it all up on one book. So we have ourselves our trilogies and our tetralogies and our heptalogies. Anyways, back to our problem in the paper-back section of our public libraries. Typically they contain fairly current novels. Which means they have perhaps the third volume but not the first or the second. I am thrust in to the middle of the story without context. Or worse, I am fully involved in my hero's tale with no way of knowing how it ends. To this day I'll pick up any Asimov novel I come across, just in case it might be one I've missed. I'm sure I've read Foundation dozens of times, fearing it's one of my missed books.
How does all this talk of trailing ends have to do with life and blogs? Now that I'm halfway through my earthly toil, it seems to me that life itself is a story with trailing ends. Often I've thought of writing of what I've learned about parenting, courage, success...but the lack of a satisfactory conclusion has held me back. My children are a work in progress. I'm a work in progress. I cannot say that one way or another guarantees satisfaction or an end to problems. Problems are interwoven in to the fabric of our life. They mess up the edges of our lives, leaving trailing bits of undone business around. Perhaps that tension of an unsatisfactory conclusion drives us forward to do better, to give another try. Let us hope that is the way to respond to life's trickeries.
It does no good to throw the book to the ground (or toss our relationships to the side) because they do not satisfy.
Thanks to sammystuff for her lovely wool picture. http://sammystuff.blogspot.com/
Friday, December 19, 2008
A sight I could have done without is robot Santa at Wal-mart.
He sent me automatic greetings every few seconds, as I stood at the door, bundled up with my purchases, waiting for hubby to pick me up. Anyways, there's this robot santa standing above the seasonal racks. On schedule, he makes some spastic moves and mumbles something Christmas-ey. Thankfully, he is drowned out by the buzz and clatter of the shoppers. But we had those few creepy moments together as I waited for my ride.
Whatever was Walmart thinking?
I watched a documentary on Mall Santas last night, very well done. Here's a fine review. The director, Mike Sheerin , gives us to peek in to the lives of three Mall Santas who take their job very seriously. There's an exchange of kindness; all three men get something special from the lives they touch. A surprising flip side is the barrenness of their personal lives. When Christmas is all over, Santa is forgotten. I'm of a mind to pass on my thanks to these heroes of the human touch....on Boxing Day.
Meeting Santa is all about humanness and warmth. A benevolent stranger cares about me and wants to know how I am doing, what I most wish for. You can't get that touch from a machine. I'm all for technology when it helps. Sure, automate the check-out experience. I'd be happy to do that chore myself. But Santa can't be automated. He's a living, breathing symbol of care.
Thursday, December 18, 2008
I figure it's the unique combination of our strengths and neuroses that led us to where we are today. We both love the small town life, but live in the big city. I figured, if the mountain won't come to Mohamed, well.... So I added a few small town habits. We stop and talk to passers-by. I drop off cookies for newcomers, or to commemorate an everyday fence-burning, or maybe just for no reason at all. After all, I love to bake with my granddaughter but I cannot eat. Why not give the love away?
Hubby asks everyone what they are up to, aggressively interested in their day. He's not faking it. He really wants to know. After all, people and their lives are loads more interesting than television. He also has a sharp eye for makes and models of cars. We know, for instance, when our single neighbour has switched boyfriends, by noting the change in make and model of car in her visitor's spot. We figure when our young couple is visiting family out of town, when their spot is vacant for a few days.
Me, I want to extend our social network for our own sake. Since we are in a religiously mixed marriage, it's tough to find couples in our relative congregations who will socialize. So I constantly search out new prospects in our neighbourhood. These extended friendships also help to remind my hubby that regular people, religious or not, are just plain fine folk.
Building our own small town around us has it's perks. We've lent and borrowed sugar. Sympathetic neighbours have pooled their collective intelligence to help us break in to our own home. I've traded perrenials around the complex so I now have a blazing variety of flowers in my garden. We've helped our neighbours apply as foster parents and get their mortgage witnessed, and they've helped us get our passports.
Helping each other fill out those necessary applications have been a wake-up call for the young couples in our neighbourhood. In the busy-ness of building their lives and their little family, they suddenly realize their network of friends is very, very small. What does it say about our modern, isolating lifestyle that the best candidates to vouch for them are the....nosy neighbours?
Saturday, December 13, 2008
Our famous Canadian cold is finally scheduled to arrive, so made sure the feeder is full.
I wonder if a few strategically placed moth-balls might convince him to nest somewhere else. Where does one buy moth-balls these days?
Tuesday, December 9, 2008
Thursday, December 4, 2008
- Edmonton is the restaurant capital of Canada
- We use only ten percent of our brain
- Boil a frog slowly enough and it won't jump out of the pot
What's the harm in spreading myth? I've spent a good deal of time teaching myself to think clearly and make decisions based on fact. It's so easy for people to get duped by a good sounding story, to be swept along by hormones, feeling, or instinct. People who base their decisions on anything other than reason may not really be in charge of their life at all. They could become victims of a con-man or a cause. I proud that am not taken by telemarketers or by any salesman for that matter. I am my own woman, not a puppet.
Even so, once in a while I get caught. But I'm getting smarter. If you haven't found it yet, snopes is a great place to check out if a story is fact or fiction. Please, please use snopes before you forward an e-mail rumor. You will be doing every shared server on the planet a big favor. And you will save yourself my annoyance.
Well, my most recent myth to die, which I have shared unknowingly for years, is that Edmonton is the restaurant capital of Canada. I've since discovered that most cities make this claim. It's not based on fact, but civic pride. The only google reference to Edmonton's claim I found in an Edmonton article. It just goes to show, if a tidbit is shared often enough, it gains a life of it's own. Share it enough, and people might just think it's fact.
So which city can honestly boast that they are the restaurant capital of Canada? Montreal. There are over 5,000 restaurants in the metro island area. All the more reason to go for a visit, don't you think?
We only use ten percent of our brain. Myth. My Witness husband uses this false factoid to bolster his claim that human beings were meant to live for thousands of years. He gains great satisfaction from the hope that his poor brain can finally be used to it's full potential, if only it were given enough time. How the brain really works is a fascinating read. Two books I highly recommend are "The Language Instinct" by Steven Pinker and "The Mind and the Brain: Neuroplasticity and the Power of Mental Force" by Jeffrey M. Schwartz. From those readings, I may have to give up another myth that the mind stores all information fed it from birth. That false mind model suggests that we could remember everything if we could just learn to access a vast unconscious. It turns out rather that the brain constantly renews itself, reinforcing pathways that are referenced often, and dropping others. In other words, you can lose it if you don't use it.
Now. About the boiled frog. Myth. This myth died hard. After all, the imagery works so well. I still use it to make the point that we are to be vigilant always and not to ignore incremental change. Always check - where are we heading? I've used the boiled frog analogy to explain how Jehovah's Witness recruiters slowly introduce a bible student to their beliefs. I've seen this in action many times as a new study is first warmly welcomed to a meeting in his jeans and t-shirt.
- The next meeting he's wearing a jacket over the jeans.
- The t-shirt is the next to go, replaced with a crisp open-necked dress shirt.
- The jeans are replaced with suit pants.
- And finally, the tie. No decent Witness male attends a meeting without a tie. At this stage, the study leader my offer to lend one of his. Just to make sure the poor fellow fits in.
So which one of these myths are true? Not a one. I played a rather nasty word game to prime you to find some truth in my three myths. It's not there. Word games can be tricky. Here's a final example to make you think. An author writes a highly successful fiction novel. In his preface, he suggests that the entire story is "true", but the facts must be hidden in fiction because sinister forces don't want the "truth" to come out. But the plain answer is that the entire novel is fiction. Half-truths rumor and myth are woven together in to a great story. It's a fantastic story, but it is not true.
I am horrified to find that many people were duped by that single false statement in his preface. There's entire discussion groups dedicated to the story he wove. The story? The Da Vinci Code by Dan Brown. A pox on that one sentence that sent a subset of the internet world on chasing a myth. History is muddied enough without a creative author kicking more muddle in to the mess.
Tuesday, December 2, 2008
Anyways, I am influencing the next generation. And what a challenge that turns out to be. This particular little group struggles with worship. For some, at least, it is a challenge to wiggle and weasel out of the chore. It's not a chore, it's a joy. But that's our own tug-of-war, and we'll keep working on it. After all, I am very, very determined.
Where I see eyes lighting up and esteem growing is in the short minutes of play before the structured program. This little group, besides abhoring worship, has taken to skipping (or jump rope). I've seen the shyest approach the rope ever more confidently from week to week. Even the youngest have surprised their parents by skipping a few times.
So I am wondering how I can leverage this interest, and how I can honor their choice. My google tour launches me in to a fascinating culture. Jump rope is a game of the streets. Any child can learn it, and very little equipment is required.
Perhaps I will simply expose my little group to the possibilities, and we'll take it from there. We can start with some jump rope rhymes and I can show them some championship video. I have friends in Wisconsin, close to the self-proclaimed jump rope capital of the world. I could get some bumper stickers and other items. After all, when it comes to jump rope, my little group is leading me.