Thursday, March 31, 2011

(sigh)

in time of daffodils (who know 

in time of daffodils (who know
the goal of living is to grow)
forgetting why, remembering how
in time of lilacs who proclaim
the aim of waking is to dream,
remember so (forgetting seem)
in time of roses (who amaze
our now and here with praise)
forgetting if, remember yes
in time of all sweet things beyond
whatever mind may comprehend,
remember seek (forgetting find)
and in a mystery to be
(when time from time shall set us free)
forgetting me, remember me

e.e. cummings

(sigh)

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Birdseed For Thought

Don't tell my boss, but once in a while I have to get up from my desk, if for no other reason but to stop staring at pixels for a few moments. What's more, sometimes I even go outside for some fresh air (how reckless and adventuresome am I?). Mostly I just go out to stand in the sun, if there is sun. If it's raining I stand in the rain. If it's a blizzard, I stand in the blizzard.

Today, I met this little guy. He was happily munching away at some seeds someone had left on the ground. He chose not to tell me his name nor ask for mine. I didn't have to present my credentials. He didn't care if I was having a bad hair day, or if one sock didn't match the other, or if my antiperspirant was failing, or my shoes were scuffed, or if my teeth still revealed remnants of the lunch pasta from the cafeteria. And he didn't look askance at my presence; like I was either too important to talk to, or no one important at all. I didn't feel the need to say the right thing or impress or please. He just seemed happy that I was there. We just hung out for a little while.

What a breath of fresh air that was...

Monday, March 28, 2011

Leadership: Following Peanut's Chosen Path

A few years ago my dog Peanut blew out not one but both his rear knee ligaments. He's fine with daily glucosamine supplements, but he still has to take it easy – which seems to be fine with him. He doesn't chase balls anymore. Actually, I both throw and fetch the balls and he holds up the score cards.

After his injuries I began to go out after a snowfall to shovel a path for him through the deep snow in the backyard to give him an easy route to take for his daily chores. But I found he wouldn't keep to where I'd shoveled. Go figure.

So this year I let him go first and followed behind, clearing his chosen path. When he looked back, there I was in case he got into trouble...

Now he's happy.

And I learned what is perhaps my most valuable leadership lesson...

Sunday, March 27, 2011

A Social Media Misnomer

Really, I have to ask you, does this guy look like a criminal? Of course not. A bit woolly-headed perhaps, but certainly not malicious.

I'm not one to post about social media topics simply because many already do it so well. But when I heard the term sockpuppet is being bantered about to define individuals in social media who register themselves under a false name and converse as someone other than their true identity for purposes of deception: I felt it my civic duty to speak up.

Deception = sock puppet? I'm sorry, but someone must have been smoking something. It's a misnomer of the first degree, akin to assigning a miniskirt to a hippopotamus, or equating hairy, snorting, 300 pound wrestlers to baby ducklings.

I realize that we all characterize trends and issues by the use of 'catch phrases' and clever word associations; but using the name of these lovable creatures as a classification for fraudsters, wackos and conniving impersonators is just so wrong.

I have known more than a few sock puppets in my life, including my friend Cufflink (above – he hasn't a deceptive bone in his body). Sock puppets have a special link to mankind. Our children both make and love them. They have fuzzy, innocent hearts. They know all your secrets and don't tell. They make funny faces at the drop of a hat. They tell stories, sing songs and crack jokes. They are as entertaining as Shari Lewis' Lamb Chop and as helpful as the Scottish Falsetto Sock Puppet Theatre.

This must end. Lend your hand in support of the sock puppets we love! Share this post. We must speak for them because, after all, we are their voice!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The Thing About Getting Out Of Bed

Some days it seems like it just ain't worth getting out of bed in the morning. But you do so because of one of two reasons:
1) Your mother always told you that you have to, or
2) You are already awake and your bladder is singing you a song and that light fixture you are lying there looking up at has lost its interest.

On with the show.

But how do you know whether getting up was worth it? One of three reasons:
1) Sometimes something happens in your day, like you win the Pulitzer Prize or you cure cancer and right then, you know getting up was worthwhile, or
2) You look around at the end of the day and something small pokes its head up (like you saved an old lady from getting hit by a kiddie-car) and you go, "Oh that was it. That's what I got up for." Or finally
3) Then there are those days you can't identify any reason at all; It was just a BS day. But even these days may have hidden secrets you may not realize. Maybe you made someone chuckle which made them pass wind when they really needed to pass wind. That's definitely worth getting up for.

Note: If you hear someone say, "There are no bad days." Do NOT trust these people! They tend to be the 'cheery' type that creep me out. This is the type of person that must think there is a bright side to mass global destruction, venereal disease and cucumber sandwiches on whole wheat toast with mayo.

So, today is the 23rd of March. Yesterday we had spring. The snow was gone, buds on the trees and crocuses blooming. Today we got walloped. Snow drifts up to my waist and growing as I speak. No use shoveling tonight because it will blow over again by the morning.

I have a funny feeling that light fixture on the ceiling above the bed is going to look very, very interesting at five a.m....

Monday, March 21, 2011

Where Everything Else Is Not

This is a "not dot". It certainly is a dot, of course, but where everything else is everywhere else, in this dot it is not. 

Explanation: I was home ill today with a bit of a bug, without a thing to eat in the house. By mid-afternoon I thought I needed to eat something so I went down the street for a pizza. At the back of the parking lot there is this dot painted on the wall of a warehouse... forgive me... it got me thinking... I may have been delirious...

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Bamboo Cutter

I went out to see the perigee moon last night and was reminded of its ability to influence not only tides, but some say everything from moods to disastrous world events. Thoughts then turned to our friends in Japan and the devastation of recent days.

Amongst the most ancient of Japanese tales is The Tale of the Bamboo Cutter. (This is how I remember the story. Please forgive any errors.)

It tells of an old Bamboo Cutter who, upon cutting open a glowing bamboo shoot one evening, discovers a tiny baby the size of his thumb. He and his wife (who were were childless) joyously name her Nayotake no Kaguya-hime (the Shining Princess of Supple Bamboo) and raise her as their own.

Whenever he cut open a stalk of bamboo from then on, he found a nugget of gold and soon became rich. The baby grew into a very beautiful woman; so lovely in fact that five princes tried but could not win her hand in marriage. Even the Emperor of Japan, Mikado, was lovestruck but could not capture Kaguya-hime's heart.

Her father noticed that on every full moon tears would fill her eyes and finally she revealed that she was not of this world, but was sent here and must soon return to her people on the Moon.

As the day of her return approached, the Emperor sent guards to protect her house but when the "Heavenly Beings" appeared, the guards were blinded by a bright light. Kaguya-hime wrote sad notes of apology to both her parents and the Emperor. As she handed the note to the Emperor's guard a feather robe was placed on her shoulders and all her earthy sorrows were forgotten. Kaguya-hime was taken back to Tsuki-no-Miyako ("the Capital of the Moon").

Her parents were struck down by sadness. The Emperor, upon reading his note, ordered that the letter and the pot of elixir of immortality (for he no longer wanted to live forever if it meant without her) be taken to the tallest mountain and burned. He wanted the fire to be as close to his love in the heavens as possible; in the hopes his grief might reach her.

The word 'immortality' (fuji) became the name of the mountain. The smoke was seen for centuries...

Thursday, March 17, 2011

First Fly of the Season

I think I'll call him Hubert.

I came home from work today and let Peanut out for a leak and there was Hubert sunning himself on the wall by the kitchen window. He sat up when he saw me and waved. Well, I have to tell you, my heart leapt.

Flies like my new friend Hubert, (Musca domestica, I believe – not being scientific), have quite the family tree. They are thought to have evolved in the beginning of the Cenozoic era, some 65 million years ago: originating in the Middle East. Because of their close relationship with man, they owe their worldwide dispersal to co-migration with humans. In fact, Hubert may be related to a fly that your ancestors knew...

Sayings have been made of flies just like Hubert in many languages around the world. In Chinese they say, "Do not remove a fly from your friend's forehead with a hatchet." In Portuguese; "Every fly has its shadow." In Spanish; "Laws, like the spider's web, catch the fly and let the hawk go free." And in Groucho-ese; "Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana." Wise words all.

In our daily vernacular, we say "Your fly is down." This does not mean your pet fly is depressed. It's a polite way to tell someone their zipper is down. If you "dress fly" it doesn't mean you sport a hairy body and wings, it means your personal fashion is "very cool or excellent."

While I don't even like flies personally, if the appearance today of my new friend Hubert is a harbinger of the coming of spring, then I'm his best bud.

Hubert is now, officially, my icon of hope. All bow to his presence.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Yellow Budgie Self Love

"If I only had a little humility, I'd be perfect." Yellow Budgie (and Ted Turner)

Monday, March 14, 2011

In The Shadows

We tend to weave our way around shadows by instinct. Shadows are the undefined areas where sight is suddenly limited. Lurking in the shadows are untold terrors and the demons of the night.

Truth be told, shadows are welcome. They help define sight. If we eradicate shadows, stands to reason we eradicate light...

...for shadows are not sinister. They add definition and most importantly, nuance. Without both, vision is flat. Words and numbers lose their dynamic and fade...

... and without dynamics, we lose dimension. Dimension is the celebration of where light does not fall. For when we see a lack of light, we also see what blocks it. And in that moment, that object becomes real. If we're lucky, we can ride that thought to see more...

... the magic that links shadows and light and creates a unique perspective in time.

Once imagined  – talking becomes sharing, a peanut butter cup becomes a feast for the gods, having sex becomes making love, work becomes passion, blurred understandings become clarity, the mundane turns into the marvelous and...

...shadows become the reason for light.

Ogling The Sideshow

We live with a plethora of different world characters which the press loves to bring into our consciousness. It took an earthquake to knock the most recent examples off of our televisions and newspapers (for the most part) and I don't mean to highlight their notoriety or celebrity status here.

Characters are notorious for different reasons. Some we can't help but feel sad for and some we can't help feelings of complete and utter disbelief. Common to all is a lack of understanding as to why they do what they do. Or why they're allowed to do what they do. Whatever the reason for their deeds and words, we never really seem to be given enough to form an understanding.

But is an understanding what we really want?

Or are our own lives so mundane that we need to be fascinated by wingnuts, the demented and the ill? Perhaps the way we ogle these weird and remarkable characters is this century's version of a freak show.

P.T. Barnum would have a field day.

Many thanks for this caricature by an extremely talented friend, Frederick Sebastian. You can visit his blog here.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Why Your Brain Is Not An Egg Cup

Thinking about understanding the brain is a very dangerous thing because, as Lyall Watson (author the best seller Supernature) observed, if our brain was so simple that we could understand it, we would be so simple we couldn't. 

In olden days popular theory likened our brains to egg cups – empty vessels at birth that we spent our lives filling up. The role of parents was to make sure that we filled them up with the 'right things'. (Thus, the ever popular question of my youth; "Who's been filling your brain with that nonsense?")

In those days when our brains were full we simply stopped learning and went about our business using what we had learned.

It's a bit more complicated than that today. Scientists tell us that several billion bites of information enter our brains every second. Stands to reason that if our brains were like egg cups, they'd be full in short order. Once we were a few days old, our egg cup brains would be overflowing. Truth is, like our ears, our brain doesn't stop growing as we get older.

As our brain experiences the world around us, it instantly evaluates and drops data it doesn't think necessary. It's more like a sieve than an egg cup; keeping the big stuff that life has taught it is valuable and discarding the small stuff. While we rest, it organizes the stuff it keeps into piles for later use.

So, your brain is not an egg cup. It's a sieve.

Gotta go and find my car keys...

Thursday, March 10, 2011

How Much Am I Adored?

First thing this morning I asked some of my co-workers to comment on my god-like status and I captured their adoration in the above pictures. Witness the look of sheer joy in their eyes. It truly brought tears to mine.

Ah, the responsibility of greatness...

LOL – kidding! I work with a great bunch of hardworking, talented people and, truth be told, I try everyday to earn their respect.

My thanks to Simon, Martin, Mary and Steve for the funny faces!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Making a Phone Call With a Budgie in the Room

*ring, ring*
"Mountain Mazda, Service Department."
(squawk!)
"Hello, my name is MacIvor. I'd like to arrange to have my Mazda3 in for the recall."
(squawk! SQUAWK!)
"Yes sir, when would you like to bring it in?"
(SQUAWK, SQUAWK, CHIRP, CHIRP TWE-E-E-ET!)
"Excuse me for a second..."
"Certainly."
(SQUAWK!)
"...I just have to go kill a budgie."
(ACH, ACH, CHICH, TWEET!) 
"Excuse me, did you say you have to go kill a budgie?"
(SQUAWK!) 
"It's okay, it won't die. Believe me, I've tried."
(Squawk, Awwwwk!)
"Haha! That's hilarious!"
 (SQUAWK! Eeeert!)
"Can I bring the car in on Saturday?"
(BRRRRT-ACH-ACH-ACH!) 
"See you then. Bring a book. It'll take three and a half hours."
(SQUAWK!)
"That long?"
(TWEET-BRRRT!)
"Unfortunately."
 (AAAARK!)
"Okay. I'll be there. Would you like a budgie?"
(PREEET, ACH!)
"That's okay."

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

"Poof" or Prosperity?

Sorry, different train of thought for a moment here.

For those of you who may not know, I work for a major Canadian university.

Every large institution loves to benefit surrounding support services in the community and there is no argument here.

But for those who may be struggling with the rationale behind supporting external services (a) vs existing in-house services (b), I offer this simple comparison (above).

Nuff said.

Monday, March 7, 2011

In Defense of Intellectual Stupidity

I suppose I can't post a headline and visual like this and not give it some sort of explanation.

Have you ever done or blurted out something that you thought was apropos, but looked back later only to discover to your dismay that it was an utterly, totally and simply stupid moment?

A few of us simply haven't. Some of us have occasionally and for those of us that do it all the time – "Like, isn't that friggin' NEAT?"

I have a habit of doing and saying stupid things and have come to 'become one' with my stupid moments. I figure it's an art. And the only way I've found to know when you've reached the epitome of intellectual stupidity is when you're in a conversation and you open your mouth to say something and everyone in the room stops talking, waiting wide-eyed for something totally idiotic to come out of your mouth.

Some take years to get to that level of intellectual stupidity. Some never gain status. As far as I know, there is no course or degree to take that would allow you to perfect the art of stupid moments. I don't think its either hereditary nor genetic (if those two things are different). It's all in the art.

To all who dedicate themselves to the art of intellectual stupidity – take heart. For in the midst of all who declare "Okay now, that was stupid!" may be the one person who has the wisdom to retort, "No, it's not, actually."

Monday Wordplay

Alternative: "A bird in the hand... gets messy."
:o)

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Petey's Puppy Playground

Petey Webster may seem scary to those who don't know him but those of us who do, quite like the chap. 

Petey was born in 1991 in a small cottage in the English countryside; the offspring of English and Belgian veterinary surgeons.

A slightly odd character from birth, his parents couldn't help but notice Petey's infatuation with puppies. He simply couldn't get enough of them. His parents thought it cute. "It's probably a passing fancy," they told themselves. Still, they resolved to facilitate his interests.

The Websters outfitted their backyard with play equipment and Petey's Puppy Playground (PPP) was announced. People from all over were invited to come, for free. And come they did. The PPP initiative became the topic of much chatter in pubs, shops and market stalls. It seemed everyone wanted to come and let their puppies romp.

Petey was thrilled.

Petey's Puppy Playground is a wonderful place. Those who don't understand may think the Websters may have created something of a monster for their progeny. Admittedly, there are stinky bits to the Playground. But most know to either poop-and-scoop or avoid those areas. Bad dogs don't last long.

The end.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Possé

Circa 1965, Alta Vista Drive. (That's me on the right.)

It was a time of skinned knees, of baseball cards clothespinned to drag through spokes of your bike so it sounded like a motorcycle. Of questions like, "Where are your going?"... and answers like, "Out!"

Backyards were for miraculous football catches, makeshift forts, yucky rhubarb, prickly gooseberries and scary, flashlight nights tenting out with friends.

High tech was a crystal radio in your bedroom that you built yourself and a color television in your living room that your father used to park himself in front of to adjust the picture for what seemed like hours. Record of the year, "Strangers in the night" by Frank Sinatra. Bonanza was the most popular television show, followed by Gomer Pyle, USMC and The Lucy Show.

Favorite food in the whole world: Peanut butter and banana sandwiches. 50 cent allowances were given out each Friday. Comic books were 12 cents. Batman. Robin. The Green Hornet and Spiderman all lived in a pile under your bed. Individually wrapped Mojo candies at Paul's Sundries down the hill were 4-for-a-penny. Sandboxes were worlds made with toy cars and Popsicle sticks.

And time seemed endless.

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Schoolyard Puddle Art

Longer days now. Melting snow. I cut across the deserted schoolyard on my way home.

The ground still echos with peels of delight and rubber boots splashing into puddles.

Gone may be youthful play but with it comes the calm. Surrounding trees take their turn to paint their pictures.

Nature's art on a playground canvas.

Night falls soon. And with it all will fade to black. Until another tomorrow.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

A Three Ah-h-h Day

The soft sounds of a turtle dove's song lifted my eyes to the branches overhead this morning. She was just catching the morning light. Ah.

Which lead to a quick shot. Which lead to this illustration. Ah-h.

Which lead to rediscovering Lord Alfred Tennyson...

“And oft I heard the tender dove
In firry woodlands making moan.”


Ah-h-h.