" SpiritofSaltSpring:BC:Canada:GulfIslands:SaltSpring:Salt Spring:

March 31, 2008

Pot Smoking and Renting in BC

(this is not a pot plant but it is pretty!)

Hello there,

I’m your neighbour. I’ve never met you, never seen you, but I feel like I’ve shared a joint with you. In my bedroom no less. No. That’s wrong. Not just one joint. Quite a few.

Personally, from some moralistic or legalistic point of view, I couldn't care a less that you smoke pot but unfortunately your lighting up a joint at 2:00 am wakes me up. Oh, and I do care about inhaling THC and other chemicals. I’m having enough trouble breathing on my jogs as it is.

You have to know that the pungent, tell-tale aroma is so STRONG in my bedroom that it wakes me up because let’s face it, your bedroom and mine are mere centimetres apart. One of these nights when I get woken up AGAIN maybe I’ll just go pull the fire alarm and when the cute buff guys show up with their axes I’ll say all coy and innocently, I don’t know sir do you think there could be a grow op in there? My voice will get really high and kinda squeaky at the end of that sentence and I'll point them in the direction of your suite.

Now, I’m not sleeping that well as it is so I’m REALLY protective of my sleep. I like being unconscious for as long as possible in the middle of the night. You can imagine therefore how being woken up at 2:00 am because of the really strong smell of pot annoys me.

Don't even get me started about the smoker on the other side of me and how much I’m having to endure his smoking now that he seems to be unemployed and home all day. I really hate it when other unemployed people interrupt the peace and routine of my unemployedness. It’s a bitch.

Therefore, I was wondering if there was any way possible that you could perhaps smoke pot in your living room or on your balcony but not in your bedroom in the middle of the night? I know, I know, it is 2:00 am and smoking a joint in bed is a lot more comfortable than in the livingroom, especially if you’re about to have sex or you just had sex (you’re awfully quiet so I guess that’s something to be thankful for) but that’s the drag of sharing the planet with too many other people. You may say the same thing back to me but I have one saving grace. Maybe you've noticed how people have become rabid anti-smokers. Well, pot emits smoke. Not to mention that I have the law on my side.

I really hope you can find a creative work around to accommodate me because I don’t think I’m asking a lot and I can imagine that our wonderfully friendly landlords (have you met those people? Especially the wife?) are a lot less open minded than I am on these types of issues given that pot is still considered (laughably) illegal in BC.

Yours truly

PS: I just thought of something. Maybe the next time a real estate developer builds he could opt for a pot friendly building and then all pot smokers could live there together. It would be the opposite of No Pets. It could be a big selling point. Especially given my homeland's most prosperous crop.

What would you do about the potsmoker next door? Leave me a comment!

March 30, 2008

Got Any More Ice Cubes? Mine have all Melted

I've been reading this book called HEAT by George Monbiot, a British bloke.

This past week you may have heard that an ice shelf in Antartica called the Wilkins Ice Shelf has cracked off about 15 years sooner than scientists had been predicting.

While a wee bit of panic rose in my chest at the news, for the most part I just sat in my comfortable apartment like an unaffected observer and thought to myself, Wow, look at that. Look at that big chunk of ice. I did have the thought, Holy Shit look at that! It was a thought with an exclamation mark if that makes any difference.

Meanwhile naysayers, many of whom have every reason to maintain the status quo, corporations like Exxonmobil are spending millions of dollars a year to divide and conquer and groom our ignorance (referred to in the book as the Denial industry).

They're using their dollars to buy expertise in lobbying and spin doctoring and media relations to ensure that non peer-reviewed science articles (which are by definition circumspect because no other scientist has reviewed them) raise doubts about the existence of global warming and humans' contributions to it.

And, it seems to be working because as a species we are the champions of denial aren't we?

I'm not fat. I'm not stupid. I'm not gay. I'm not having an affair. I'm not emotionally abusive. My marriage isn't a complete sham. I'm a good parent. I'm not a big consumer. I'm not an alcoholic. If you're reading this, you're not going to be around to see the most significant consequences of your denial (even though they're happening now) and that makes it even easier for the Denial Industry to strengthen its grip.

They're getting funding from companies who are used to whitewashing. They've even created pseudo scientific organizations to further their messaging. Remember how the cigarette companies used to claim that environmental tobbaco smoke didn't cause cancer? Remember that movie The Insider about the whistleblower who was the tipping point for the demise of that ridiculous belief? By sheer luck, smoking is apparently as addictive as heroin, so they still have the weakest in their grip.

The World Health Organization now estimates that 150,000 people a year are now dying as a result of Climate change as diseases spread faster at higher temperatures. And, this is all happening as a result of temperatures that are 0.6 degrees warmer says the book.

Apparently, according to the author of HEAT, the cigarette company Philip Morris created a grass roots group but made it seem as if the group was citizens who had come together spontaneously to create the impression that citizens should be concerned about "overregulation" and to continue to raise doubt about the harmful effects of tobbaco smoke.

They even created a name that sounds pretty authentically scientific, The Advancement for Sound Science Coalition (TASSC). It's painted as an independent group. Well, guess who's funding at least three members of the coalition? ExxonMobil. And Phillip Morris.

Follow the money. Always follow the money.

Read the book. Do your own research about George Monbiot. About The Advancement for Sound Science Coalition.

Do just one thing to learn something about the real science behind climate change.

March 28, 2008

New Denver: A Cell Phone Free Zone

-New Denver, August 2007
Maybe you've heard that the little village of New Denver, BC, in the Kootenays has decided to become a cell phone free zone.

Now, if you've ever been to New Denver you can't help but think that yes, that is definitely the right decision. It is the most quaint, peaceful, scenic little town snuggled in beside Slocan Lake.

I was there this past summer for a few hours. I had lunch in an organic coffee shop on the main street and although I don't recall what kind of soup I had, I do remember that it was delicious.

I wandered through the Nikkei museum dedicated to commemorating the Japanese people who were interned in the area during World War II after being forcibly relocated from the Coast. And, I was surprised to stumble across the most beautiful Japanese Garden nestled beside the lake.

I'm just glad places like New Denver still exist.

March 24, 2008

Coronation Street Meets David Suzuki

-Herald's Park, Salmon Arm, 1992
A little knowledge is a dangerous thing. I'm sure you've heard that adage. I'm going to tell you a little story that illustrates why that can be.

Today, after a long walk with my friend Colleen through the trails in Pacific Spirit Park we decided to have lunch. We were aiming for the Chinese restaurant Ginger and Chilli. It was closed. So, then, we came across a fish and chip place. It's been there forever. I've never eaten there. We know nothing about it. We go in. We sit down. It's like being on the set of Coronation Street. Even the server, a 60-70 year old woman dressed in too much polyester, looking harried and definitely having a bad hair day seems like an extra on the Coronation Street set.

Now I've been educating myself about seafood and how I should be concerned about the types of fish I consume and where it comes from, and whether it is being harvested in a way that's sustainable or not. But, did I follow my advice to you to carry around the little seafood chart that you can print out from Seachoice.org. I got as far as printing it out. But, it wasn't in the wallet.

Why do this? Because it will prevent moments of hostility from people who think fish grow on trees or in a lab at the back of Safeway or those happy souls who subscribe to the belief that every living thing on the planet is doomed and there ain't nothing we can do about it anyway.

Meanwhile, back on the set of Coronation Street, we're looking at the menu and there's a couple of different types of fish to choose from. Cod. Halibut. Haddock. Sole. Had I had the little chart, I would not have even had to enter into the following conversation because I would have known which fish to choose. Voila! I guess I like to live dangerously. As Colleen joked, you had to swim into the murky waters and disturb the old Rock Cod.

So, I say, very politely, "Do you know where your fish comes from?" The waitress looks at me. I can see her eyes begin to narrow. "From the sea," she says, curtly. "Ya, I know it comes from the ocean but I'm just wondering if you know where the different types of fish were caught?" Silence. "We don't ask our wholesaler where he gets his fish," she spits out like a fishwife.

Not prepared for such hostility, I'm a bit speechless at this point wondering what my next very wrong question might be. I'm thinking, maybe I should just get the soup when Colleen pipes up, "Do you know what the difference is between Haddock and Sole? As soon as she opened her mouth I wondered how it was that she hadn't picked up on the woman's energy and therefore would know better than to ask anything at all let alone THAT type of question.

Clearly, it's dangerous to eat fish without being accompanied by a PhD biologist and then it's also helpful to have the captain of the debating team along when you run into the reaction you're sure to get.

Apparently Colleen's question posed right after mine is just too much for Ms. UK Congeniality 1921. "You can ask the chef," she spit out, turning abruptly, her apron strings practically flicking like the tail of an angry pony. That word - chef -brings a slight smile to my face. It's like when your mom used to say, Just wait 'til your father gets home. "We've been serving fish for 49 years," she adds as she walks away, muttering under her breath.

A few minutes pass and a man in a greasy white apron comes out from behind a swinging door. You just know what he's thinking because he meanders over our way, John Wayne-like, with a smirk on his face. He's thinking Jeezus, here we go, we got the god damned treehuggers wantin' to dissect my fish before they eat it.

"Why do you wanna know where the fish come from?" he asks. Well, I just want to know because I want to make sure that I'm not eating fish that's in danger of becoming extinct. He just stares at me. All fish are in danger of becoming extinct he says and then without taking a breath he says, Do you eat beef?

I didn't mean to offend your wife I say but I think it's a legitimate question. More and more people are going to be asking it. "She's not my wife," he says. "If you don't eat the fish someone else is going to eat it," he says.

I just care about not eating something that isn't being harvested sustainably I say. "The Japanese are killing whales," he says. "Well, I can't control what somebody else does" I say. "But, don't you think that if we all just paid a little more attention to what we were consuming that it could make a difference?"

Now, I can't tell you why we continued to even stay there and order the Haddock after being treated in this manner except it has something to do with a mutant gene in Canadians eh?

Anyway, as Colleen pointed out to me after we'd eaten maybe you didn't pose the question right, Gayle. Maybe, Colleen tells me, you should have asked, "Are you Ocean-wise compliant?" Maybe that would have gone over better she says, sarcastically. Maybe you should have asked, Are you Marine-environment friendly?

Now the backdrop to all this is that I've also been reading this excellent book called Radical Simplicity. Among many things, it refers to the various levels of consciousness around changing your lifestyle to reduce your footprint. He refers to four states.

There's unconsciously unsustainable. You're driving around in a Hummer, you're eating copious quantities of red meat, your computer and TV are on 24/7 and you aren't even aware that there's anything wrong with any of that. Whatever!

Then there's consciously unsustainable. You're beginning to be aware of what you should be doing to lower your ecological footprint, to lower your greenhouse gas emissions but you're just beginning to make change so you're still unsustainable but at least you know it, dammit.

Then there's consciously sustainable in which you've made some real changes to your lifestyle and your footprint has been significantly reduced but every change is a measured one.

And, finally there's unconscious sustainability in which you have changed your habits so significantly that you don't even have to think about living in a way that's sustainable because every habit you have reinforces your sustainable lifestyle.

Now, imagine what it's like when those who live in a way that's unconsciously unsustainable meet unconsciously sustainable. Let the games begin.

It's truly something like Coronation Street meets David Suzuki. And, as we learned today, it's not pretty.

March 22, 2008

Intentional Community on Gambier Island

-Ghost Ranch, Abiqui, New Mexico, June 2007

The other day I was speaking to a woman at a web development firm that has been around since pre dot-com crash days. The company is Communicopia.
When I was scanning their site looking at their Who Are We section I made two discoveries that I found really interesting.

Julia, the woman I ended up speaking with, had been the director of programming for that retreat center on Cortes island that used to be for hippies but is now unfortunately priced in a way that tends to be out of reach of a lot of people. It's called Hollyhock.

Even more interesting to me was the fact that she is part of a group of people who have begun an intentional community on Gambier Island. When I was talking to her I mentioned how interested I was in this community. I asked her if she knew of a new magazine in Vancouver called Granville and how I thought that this intentional community might make a good story for it.

According to the website, the 80 acre parcel of land on Gambier is just 20 minutes by boat from Horseshoe Bay. The community which you can read about is called Lightwork Ecovillage.

The second thing I found fascinating on the Communicopia website was the experience of Jason Mogus, the CEO, and how through his contacts and through a little bit of fairy dust or something, he was flown to Richard Branson's private island in the Carribean to speak about how the Internet and Web 2.0 interactivity might be used to accommodate to an initiative called The Elders. The Elders involves gathering some of the world's well known and exceptional elders to brainstorm on solving some of the world's problems, one problem at a time.

Now, if only we could translate that way of working to everyday people in every community so that we might acknowledge that you don't actually have to be famous and old to be useful and wise; an elder with experience worth listening to. Although years on the planet can equal experience that has led to wisdom and a self awareness wrought from self examination, we might know examples that make that assumption null and void.

The point is, bringing together people in an intentional manner to problem solve is almost always a good thing.

March 20, 2008

Smart Seafood Consumption

-Discovery Islands Group, 2005

About to gobble down a tuna sandwich? Hold on there. Do you know where that tuna came from? Yes. It makes a difference. If it came from a destination other than the Canadian Pacific, American Pacific, or Hawaii, an organization called Seachoice recommends you avoid eating it.

I’m staring at a can of Gold Seal Albacore Flaked Tuna product of Thailand. I just removed it from my cupboard and it fits in the avoid category. Check your tuna before you buy it. You probably already do. But, perhaps you were looking for the friendly dolphin and weren’t paying all that much attention to the location on the planet where it came from.

Every time I go to buy fish, I feel confused and guilty. I feel like I never know exactly what I should be avoiding. I know enough to never buy farmed fish, especially not salmon. But, I always wonder about the wild salmon. What types? When is it okay to buy which type? I’m in the store and I see the little stickers that say previously frozen. So this fish is cryogenically sealed I think wondering for exactly how long? Isn’t it a contradiction to believe it’s healthy to eat fish to get more omega-3 fatty acids when we’re polluting our oceans and therefore why would it be a good thing to eat toxic fish? I almost never eat shellfish because making intelligent decisions around that seems even more complicated. Red Tide. Mercury. PCBs?

I’m glad that restaurants are beginning to provide what seem like exotic but sustainable seafood menu options but I just don’t see myself whipping up a little green sea urchin or a Geoduck clam at home.

Why am I telling you this? I’ve just spent time doing a crash course related to a job opportunity that has to do with fish, oceans and freshwater ecosystems and it made me realize that no matter how much I love the ocean and water in general, (hey, I am an Aquarian), I too often take fish and underwater ecosystems for granted. Given that oceans take up 40% of the surface area of Canada, it’s way past time to stop doing that. And, it’s not as if I’ve never experienced the wonder of underwater worlds.

I’ve been whale watching off Tofino to see the pacific grey whales on their annual migration. I’ve been on a week-long kayak trip through the Discovery Islands group. Our leader, Manuel, would reach down and remove a sea cucumber clinging to a rock just under the ocean’s suface. I’ve snorkelled off Kona in Hawaii and felt as if I’d immersed my head in a tropical fish tank at an aquarium. I’ve stood on the shore at the lighthouse on Mayne Island when an entire pod of orcas came swimming by, faster than a speeding train, and in spite of the awe that all those experiences inspired, I still find myself forgetting, too often, about the mystical underwater worlds.

I think it’s easy to do because like most people, I spend way too much time detached from the natural world. But, it’s clear that what’s underwater is just as much responsible for the “supernatural” in the Supernatural BC tagline as the forests and the mountains. It’s not just “purdy”. It’s our history. It’s inextricably linked to native cultures. It's a million dollar industry. It intersects with so many other industries and it’s the future. Or not. We decide every time we buy, every time we eat.

So, the next time you’re thinking of buying fish, or eating out at a seafood restaurant, take a second to find out whether you are contributing to the problem? What about all that sushi? Are you eating seafood that has been managed in a sustainable way or is in danger of becoming extinct. Where did it come from? Is it wild or farmed? Should you be eating there at all?

So how will you know this? You will ask. And, you will print out the guide from seachoice.org, fold it up, put it in your wallet, and carry it with you to make your fish and seafood consumption as informed and as guilt-free as possible. Piece of cake, or maybe geoduck!

For more information:

David Suzuki Foundation
Sign a petition against tankers

March 17, 2008

St. Patrick's Day Parade

A very charming weekend all around from 5k to St. Patty's Day parade to the pub.

A bonnie Scottish lass name Gayle
Ran her first ever 5k in green boxers.
With yells from her friends,
She ran straight to the endz,
Not even on the hill did she bail!
St. Patrick's Day 5K Race results

March 14, 2008

Corporate Strategy and Sustainability

When you work in Corporate Communications a good part of the year is spent one way or another being involved in, or at the very least thinking about, strategic planning.

You spend a lot of time trying to narrow down an organization's 3-5 year goals by engaging staff and stakeholders, narrowing down the focus, trying to figure out the best ways to communicate the vision to the entire organization in a way that they might actually buy in, and most significantly, aligning the messaging into the future so that your vision is reflected in key messages that are unified on the web, in annual reports, in e-mail, in essentially every communication that goes out to every medium.

I've honestly never seen it work all that well. Maybe I just haven't been in the right place.

Huge amounts of money can be spent on the process, taking significant amounts of time and in the end, the report gets written, the branding is completed (or not) and the messaging takes shape but no one is ever quite sure how that exercise really translates in any meaningful way into the daily reality and a change in behaviour of individual employees.

I've always thought that a key part of the process was missing and that part was the part that clearly iterated how the plan would impact an employee's way of being. For example, if the receptionist couldn't repeat the vision for the organization in the same way the president could but in a way that was meaningful to her/his work then the exercise hasn't succeeded.

So, it seems that the missing link is translating, for employees, what any new Strategic Plan means to them in terms of how it will impact their daily work, their interaction with clients (whether those "clients" are babies at a daycare, high school students, venture capitalists or artists).

At Globe 2008 yesterday, I came across a small consulting company called Visible Strategies. They've developed a new software package called "See-it" that supposedly enables an organization to strategize on issues of sustainability and social responsibility in a way that allows measurement and involves a lot of multi-media visualizations, instead of just words.

I think it's a good idea because it's not enough anymore to just be focused on the tasks associated directly with a business. It seems that now, and into the future, you will be expected to show the ways in which your business, whether that be a department at a university, an international corporation or a small mom and pop operation is aligning its purchasing choices, its recycling behaviour, and employee habits. You will be expected to show in a tangible way how you are using your collective power to impact both environmental and social change. And those two things have to be explicitly incorporated into the overall strategic plan.

Smart companies have already begun to do this it would seem.

The reason this is so important is because it begins to get people thinking, not just at work but in their own personal lives, about their interconnectedness. And, once they begin to think about that then they might begin to translate that through a change in behaviour.

If you are not in the habit of regularly donating your time or some amount of money to a cause other than to your own personal financial betterment, have you ever asked yourself why?

If you take away the excuse, which in my opinion is always an excuse, that you just don't have the money or the time, then what would the honest answer say about your real values?

Check out the desmogblog

March 13, 2008

Canadian Wooden Dome Homes

I spent the afternoon at Globe 2008, or at least at the tradeshow in which private companies, provinces, countries and individual entrepreneurs were showcasing their "green" initiatives, products, services and inventions.

I have to be honest and say that much of what was there was of little interest to me because it was B2B-related.

But, then I spotted the Canadian Wooden Domes. I'm always interested in alternative housing and architecture. I'm not sure why. Maybe because houses that don't look like houses just seem so much more interesting and maybe because in Grade 7 our class made a geodesic dome out of the aluminum ends of lawn chairs and that exercise in "out of the box" thinking was so much fun.

I went through a short-lived phase a few years back when I was fascinated by Cobb houses. I had dreams of building a cobb house for myself; a tiny little sandstone-coloured house that looked like it had been lovingly crafted under the moonlight by hardworking nymphs and faeries. It would be located in the middle of a beautiful forest, on a hill, overlooking the ocean from a protected and somewhat hidden highpoint. I had images of work parties, picnics, collaboration and community. That is, until I realized exactly how labour intensive it is to make a Cobb house.

So, at this trade show when I spotted the little model of a Canadian Wooden Dome House those same types of dreams were set in motion once again. I fantasized about where I might locate my little wooden igloo, how it would make me feel to know it was mine, what my bedroom might look like, maybe I could have a fireplace in my bedroom and even what it might smell like inside.

What can I say, it's good to daydream. What kind of house do you dream about?

March 12, 2008

Eco-Footprints and the Taxman

-Ghost Ranch, Abiqui, New Mexico, June 2007

Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about sustainability, plastic bags, recycling, sea lice and fish farms, how to clean my oven non-toxically, and wasabi. (That last one –is an inside joke which if you’ve been reading my blog faithfully you would get). Aren't you glad you're not me?

Then, today I got my tax refund back and that got me to thinking about squeezing every last dime I can back from the government and I thought, hey, wait a minute here; shouldn’t those of us who have not procreated our crazy little selves into miniature, crazy little consumer-gobbling aficionados get some sort of tax break?

Shouldn’t I get a tax break because I have not contributed to the world’s population? I haven’t created another consumer-in-training and in Huggies. One less Elder in the making. One less pair of Depends needing to be manufactured and disposed. One less piece of techno hardware to be purchased and plugged in and then shipped back to India for dismantling, chip by chip.

Where’s the recognition, monetarily that is, for being childless? Where’s the tax break for never having contributed to child labour by purchasing outfit upon outfit of cute little Baby Gap clothing? Doesn’t it just seem so wrong that the government gives money to people who have kids just because they did. For what reason exactly? This isn’t 1945 anymore. They had sex. As a result, they spawned a sticky little rug rat or maybe they even spawned two or three little baby Whos all in one big push and shove thanks to the pharmaceutical companies remedy to the infertility epidemic and now these people get money too? That’s just so wrong. It's like the single supplement on travel in which you're penalized for travelling alone. It's just so wrong! What is the rationale behind those two things at this point in the earth’s history?

I did a little test off a website that helps you to determine what your Ecological Footprint is. You might want to get a prescription for an antidepressant before you go there.

The unfortunate part is that a lot of the questions use metric so I think, not exactly being a math person, I guessed at a lot of my answers. And, as a result, I think I answered in ways that would make it seem that I drive way farther than I really do. It makes it seem that I pack away red meat like a ravenous tiger in a National Geographic special, (absolutely not true)and I shower, well, yes, I like long hot showers. I admit it.

But, there’s only one of me so I just don’t get how it’s possible that according to this little test that if everyone lived like I did we’d need three earths, not just one.

Just call me Baby Sasquatch. My footprint is gonna kill you, me and the baby! (That’s my favourite line from the movie The Fly that has never left my consciousness, ever).

My advice to you? Don’t be lying down in the garden for a little afternoon siesta when I’m out for a little stroll. My huge planet-sized footprint is going to squish your little head.

But seriously, isn’t it about time that we stopped paying people because they had sex and they had a baby and give a tax break to those of us who haven’t? Had a baby that is, not sex.

What about re-examining that policy at this point in time in honour of sustainability?

March 11, 2008

Do the Dishes and Get Laid

Maybe you've heard that Stats Can has released a study that shows that some men are doing more housework and as a result they're getting laid more. All I have to say about that is were they in a gay bar when they did the survey?

If you happened to catch that pathetic TV Show on CBC called The Week the Women Went, in which they took a little town in Alberta and they put all the women on buses for a luxury week in Banff while the men had to deal with the kids and the house, it was pretty clear that only one of the men, maybe two, even knew where the dishwasher or the washing machine was let alone how to turn them on. The really sad part was how few of them were actually interacting with their children in a way that isn't going to damage them for life. But that's another story. And, clearly, what this study is suggesting is that if you can't turn on the dishwasher that's not the only gadget you won't be turnin' on.

Doesn't that seem weird to you? They can rebuild an engine but they can't turn on the dishwasher? They can create a robotic space arm but they don't know how to find the brush that cleans the toilet? Maybe the robotic space arm was actually designed solely by women. We should check on that.

Now, I personally couldn't care a less because I don't have any men in my house. I mess it up all by myself. I clean it up all by myself. When I have to. When company's coming. Maybe. That how it works in my "How to stay single forever" reality. Housework to me ranks right up there on the interest scale with, let's say, curling!

And, interestingly enough, the two men I've lived with for any significant length of time have been really good at cooking and at housework. Perhaps it's an inverse correlation directly related to how good the woman is at those.

In 2006, 87.9 per cent of men said they did housework, up from 84.4 per cent in 1996. Say that again. Eighty-seven percent? I'm sorry but when I look at people I know, who live with husbands or live-in boyfriends, I really don't get the feeling that that number is accurate.

Did they give them a definition of what housework is before they asked the question? Taking the empties from the TV room to the kitchen counter, did that count?

The only thing I liked about the study is that it shows that if you don't treat someone else like your personal slave, then, yes, it's probably likely that you're going to have a relationship that's more affectionate than if you are still acting like a child wondering when mom's coming home to cater to your every whim. Although, I question that even as I write it given so many of the realities I've witnessed.

Then again, it was dear old mom, and her refusal to teach her son (and to be fair, her daughters) how to do anything around the house that created the monster in the first place.

It's always mom's fault isn't it?

March 10, 2008

Google Folk Art

Walking around Santa Fe last June and saw this piece of folk art in the window of some shop downtown across from the La Fonda hotel. It's not pretty. I wouldn't want to own it but somebody who works at google might. Imagine some archeologist finding this in a pile of rubble hundreds of years from now. Google? What's Google? Could it have been their God?

March 09, 2008

Kutlug Ataman's Version of Paradise

Went to the Vancouver Art Gallery today to see an exhibit that had photos from the 1800s as part of a movement called Pictorialism.

I always find it so much better if my visit just happens to coincide with one of the talks they give because the people who lead those are always incredibly articulate and knowledgeable.

Listening to them gives you the kind of insight into the art, it's historical context, and the major artists in the movement in a way that you would never get just wandering around on your own unless you had some knowledge of art history.

But, the most interesting exhibit, for me, was on the third floor by Kutlug Ataman. It's called Paradise and Kuba.

One room is full of old televisions with chairs in front and on the TVs people are speaking and it's a bit of a cacophony as if you've just entered a room where 45 people are speaking all at once. You choose which television screen you might want to sit in front of and read what's being said off the screen. All the people on the these TV screens were from a community called Kuba located on the outskirts of Istanbul.

In the next room are 24 widescreen TVs with head phones. The 24 people in this room are from Southern California. It's as if you're sitting down at a speed dating event in which the person on TV is just talking to you about what their thing is and their thing might range from plastic surgery to porn star. The idea being that these 24 people are representative of some aspect of the mythology associated with Southern California.

You can listen to the guy who started the Quicksilver clothing line and hear how wonderful it was for him to grow up on the beach at Laguna beach and how surfing was/is his life.

You can hear a plastic surgeon speaking about how important it is to think not just about your face when you're getting a facelift but about your other body parts and how it all has to work together. Because if your face is perfect and you suddenly look 10 years young but then you bring your sausage-like, liver-spotted hand up to your chin, it's not going to work. The effect is ruined.

You can hear a women speaking about palliative care and another talking about how she can see auras and her experience of recognizing that she could do this one day and that was a talent she had that others didn't.

You can watch a laughing yoga group in action. You can hear a gay artist talking about his very specific special talent that has enabled him to make a living which he has done by videotaping himself and in complete privacy he has been able to make a living but, at the same time not take part in the porn industry in a way in which he may be exploited or have to exploit others. I was fascinated by what he had to say. The juxtaposition of his outward appearance and what he was talking about was really interesting.

When you're there, as in daily life, you find yourself making choices about who you want to talk to based on what they look like before you can hear what they're saying.

So, part of the fun is in looking at someone on screen and trying to guess ahead of time who they are and what they might be speaking about and then actually hearing what their subject is once you put on the headphones.

It's as if you've just spent the afternoon meeting 24 new people, voyeur-like, and you didn't have to do anything except listen to them and you've been given the gift of a glimpse into the reality of lives that you would never normally be privy to. I loved it. I could have spent all night there but it was closing time.

Worth experiencing for sure.

March 08, 2008

Does your blog exist if nobody ever comments?

I went to a fundraiser on Thursday night for Theatre Terrific, a local non profit that puts on theatre productions with actors/artists who live with either a mental or physical disability/illness.

My friend Lisa is on their Board and she, along with a lot of other people, put a lot of work into gathering silent auction items. It was a 60s theme so everyone dressed up as if it was the 60s and descended on the Floata restaurant in Chinatown. There were wonderful cakes donated by some incredible chefs and silent auctions and hopefully the end result is a significant amount of money for their budget.

While there I was introduced to a guy named Shane who had just finished writing the second edition of Blogging for Dummies. His own blog is called Shane's World.

I was asking him how you get people to actually look at your blog given all the blogs out there and I pointed out this blog called Zenhabits that has 38,000 subscribers. It's focused mainly on living more simply in order to create peace in your life to ensure that most of your energy is focused on those things that are most important to you. His presentation of the information is excellent. Now, it's just so typical that until I saw his Blog I was perfectly happy to just be blah, blah, blahing away to myself. But, this guy could put just one word on a blog post and I swear that 50 people would comment. That must just feel really good. Like, oh my god, there's actually somebody out there all the while I'm saying that realizing that it shouldn't matter but, it does.

I've also been re-reading this book called Mind of the Soul by Gary Zukav. It's probably, for me, the best book of its kind that I've ever read.

And, I heard some things this week that just seem worth passing on.

1. Hurt people, hurt people.

2. Ask yourself if you're aiming to create harmony and if your intent is to achieve peace or are you just trying to be right? Does it feel like a competition?

3. In any relationship between two people, don't focus on yourself, don't focus on the other, focus on the in-between because that is the intention and what happens, in-between, will become the tone of the relationship.

If anybody's out there, has any words of wisdom along the lines above or just wants to add a comment, be my guest.

March 07, 2008

Cloth versus Plastic

Do you ever get the feeling as you're standing in your up scale grocery store with food so perfect that you're afraid to buy it because it looks like it has been prepared by a food stylist and you've forgotten your little cloth bag for the 100th time that it's all just a conspiracy aimed at the wrong people: Us. Individuals. What if you have a family of five? How many cloth bags do you need then and how falsely smug can you feel as the guy behind you says, Plastic. I'll have plastic. So shoot me.

Now, I'm not saying that individuals - you, me and the baby - can't make a difference. I'm all for reduce, reuse, recycle. But, every time I hear something aimed at you and me, the individual, all I can see are corporate logos, the military industrial complex that still exists and lineups at the chocolate buffet on all those cruiseships. What happens to all that left over food on those floating palaces of gluttony anyway?

All I can hear is how much profit the banks made this year even though their earnings were down in the fourth quarter. All I can imagine are what the president's offices look like in all those head offices of all those oil companies in Calgary and Dubai and Saudi Arabia.

All I can see are planes taking off full of tourists and plastic cutlery, thousands of pieces, floating in space and how much we, whenever we get on a plane, end up consuming prior to our little vacation so we'll have the right stuff when we get to our destination. But, hey, we buy our groceries in cloth bags and we recycle and clean out the cans and shop at second hand stores and we ride our bike so like, we're even right? We're okay?

And, all I can see is beyond the packaging that's going into making so called green products, look green. Here's a tip: Baking soda. Vinegar. Borax. That's green. You don't need to buy anything that somebody else made and packaged in a way that fools you into believing that theirs is the purest, the cleanest, most environmentally friendly in the name of profit. And, then again, ever tried to clean your oven without using the most toxic shit on the planet because it seems to work? Fast! Yes, you could run out and buy ammonia and put some in a little glass and leave it in your oven overnight (but then you'd have ammonia in your house), and then use good old fashioned elbow grease to scrape away the blackened droppings but ammonia?

So, what's the ecological footprint of let's say Chevron compared to yours? Look down. You're wearing a pair of cute little Robeez booties and they're wearing Size "killing the planet and don't give a shit" shi shi $500 designer sneakers. What's Walmart's ecological footprint? They don't sell cheap sandals Made in China big enough for their ecological footprint. How about IKEA? Every time I ever go to IKEA, I look around and I start to get queasy and I wonder, how many times do you need to buy new dishes, again, anyway? Who are all these people that are just setting up house for the first time anyway? But, then I'm there too. Just lookin mind you!

Forgive me for being born I think as I tip toe around hoping my footprint isn't making too big an indentation, anywhere, because I'm trying to shrink into oblivion especially now that China is just coming into capitalism.

I was watching Oprah the other day and what about Oprah? What about that show she has where she gives away all that product? I digress. So, I saw, on Oprah, these people who are calling themselves "freegans". They go dumpster diving in New York city behind major restaurants or food stores and end up getting enough tossed food in perfectly good condition to feed a small village in Africa.

I don't know about you but I'm still trying to aim for just two days without buying nothing. And, I'm not even a major consumer type. I'm not exactly a high maintenance, high end, pick up the drycleaning and don't forget to drop by the doggy daycare after my manicure once I'm done with my personal coaching session and my personal trainer in my Mercedes kind a gal.

A few links:
Are you a closet Freegan?
Get Local
Cleaning Toxic free
Eat the Seasons
Carbon Neutral

March 05, 2008

So you wanna write a script?

Today, because I'm just exploring which translates into I really have no clue as to what to do with myself, I decided I'd go talk to a guy who's a screenwriter at a local film company.

Knowing next to nothing about scriptwriting, I tripped over this company because I was sitting in my favorite chair flipping through some business magazine that came as a supplement in Business in Vancouver and I spot this company. It was part of a listing of fastest growing companies in BC.

Insight Film Studios Inc. claims to be the fastest growing independent film and video production company in Canada (well, actually they say North America on their website) based right here in the little ole backwater of Vancouver.

But, as Keith Shaw, the man who graciously agreed to meet me, pointed out, success is relative. Look around, he said, and I did look around at a really dumpy office, little tiny cubicles, and according to Shaw full of mainly accounting types. He was nice and he's the inhouse screenwriter. His co-worker was nice as well. Jason. Graduate of the Vancouver Film School back in 1996. Managed to pay off his humungous debt just recently because the film school, like every private school, is too damned expensive (my editorial comment, not his). But, at the same time, it's all about connections and I'm sure he learned what he needed and he met his film/business partner.

In fact, it just so happened he was giving a talk tonight so instead of running as in Running Room running, I bailed on the running hoping to hear some pearls of wisdom. I feel like I've been spending a lot of time walking back and forth on the route up to downtown along Coal Harbour lately. Tonight I went to a place called BizBooks which is a book store directed solely at film and television books and info.

Jason whose last name is Bourque, whom I'd met earlier in the day because he shares the wall of the cubicle with Keith at Insight Films, was an incredible wealth of information which he gave to us, for free, in a two-hour brain dump. The small venue was packed.

Everything you ever wanted to know about how to pitch a script (one-pagers - no spelling mistakes), what they look for at Insight Films, and the genres that are their bread and butter. The really interesting parts were his quick summaries of his own upcoming projects, past projects, and his pitches and the route some of them took or didn't take.

All these acronyms were swirling around. I mean, God, I didn't even know what MOW meant until he finally said it out loud. Oh, Movie of the Week! Treatment? What does that mean? Note to self: Buy a book on scriptwriting because you know NOTHING. But, there isn't anything about it that can't be learned, given a good idea, a script (that I don't even really have to be the one to write), the ability to visualize in pictures which I've always been able to do, and luck.

If you have a commitment from a broadcaster or you have money already or a known actor then that's good. Ya. None of that's going to ever happen. At least not the last two. If it's sci-fi, a true story with a strong female protagonist, a creature feature or if it's a Christmas movie of the week then it might have a chance. They also produce documentaries and Jason also has his own company called Gold Star Productions Inc.

Talk about a timely cold call. I now have so much information about the type of ideas they look for, how to present an idea to them, and even the preferred software they use. I know that Bravo! TV shorts, LifeTime TV network and the SciFi channel in the US are good potential venues for people trying to break in. Locally, there's the CBC, there's Women in Film for more information, and Telefilm, and the BC Film Commission. And they talked about translating some literary short story - such as what Sarah Polley did with Alice Munro's story or as in Annie Proulx's original story that became the feature film Broke Back Mountain.

Today was a testament to using this gift of time to just say MMMM? I wonder what THEY do? And then deciding to find out. Put on the raincoat. Act like Colombo. Just because you can.

March 04, 2008

I'm in Love with my Runners

On Saturday, after a mere two months of Running Room training our 'Learn to Run' Group ran 3 kilometres without stopping. You know what the key is? Excellent runners.

When I put my foot into my runners it's like I've just stepped into waffles with whip cream on top. No, better than that even. The thing is, when I run, my feet are the furthest thing from my mind because the runners are so good. My breathing on the other hand. That's another story. I can't believe that when I was in high school and doing all that running related to basketball we would always have to buy Converse hi-tops. Those things are really uncomfortable, not to mention really ugly.

Anyway, there is something to be said about the training at The Running Room. I'd highly recommend it to anyone who is a couch potato because it's true, it works to run with other people. Monday. Wednesday. Saturday morning. We even run with a 20 month old baby in our group. Her mom pushes her in one of those hi-end running strollers. And we all look forward to seeing Hana.

On March 15th, I'm entering a 5K Fun Run. A race in honour of St. Patty's Day complete with beer and Irish Stew afterwards at the cricket clubhouse in Stanley Park.

Scary. Fun. Hard to imagine. Me. Running. Anywhere!