20 December 2010

A Little Running Ditty

They say that running's good for you
So do it every day
It makes the sun shine in your heart
It pushes clouds away!

The more you run, the more you'll smile
`til people stop and stare.
They'll ask you what the magic is...
Perhaps the clothes you wear?

Even when your legs are sore,
When you can barely move...
Get out of bed, you sleepy head,
And find your running groove.

Ignore the doctors when they say
To listen to your body...
For if you do, it screams and yells,
And says "take up karate!"

Achilles Tendons, they will whine,
And Plantar says "Don't go!"
Hips and knees will plead with you
They're not your friend but foe!

Unless they're black or falling off,
Nails are rather dumb!
Who needs nails? They are a waste
of precious calcium.

Just tune it out, the whole damn thing
From toe to empty head.
For if you listen, you'll be found
Alone and sad in bed.

Your ass will fill with fatty cells,
Your belly it will swell,
Your lungs will shrink,
You'll lose your dink
Your feet will really smell!

So run, run, run, You Dicks and Janes,
Put on those shorts and shoes!
At Seven Miles you'll find those smiles
Have pushed away the Blues!

08 December 2010

Ah, Memories

This will be remembered at one of the pinnacles in Vancouver's history!  What an amazing time it was; it's very hard to believe it was almost a year ago already.

12 November 2010

01 July 2010

24 June 2010

On the Moral Depravity of Capitalism in 20 Tweets

I've thought a lot about it & have concluded that market capitalism is actually conducive to evil. It's not just a talking point.

Here's why.

1. The system requires winners AND losers. It is- by design- zero sum. This creates two serious moral problems.

2. The 1st moral dilemma of capitalism is that it demands that its adherents not only have stake in their own wins, but in your losses.

3. That is the seedy underbelly of competition. Winning at any cost. Depriving my opponent of whatever I must, even dignity or life.

4. The other moral dilemma of capitalism creates & perpetuates what is basically a form of mental illness in people with consciences.

5. No person of conscience can enjoy the spoils of wealth/capitalism without some guilt.

6. But that same person also realizes it is impossible to see that everyone shares in the wealth of the system. There MUST be losers.

7. So the natural instinct in a painful situation that seems impossible to change is to go into denial.

8. We disconnect from the humanity of other people. We withdraw into our own small worlds and justify it as fair or right.

9. And we console ourselves by saying if others were as righteous as us, they would have what we do. They must deserve suffering!

10. This entire endeavor puts our souls in peril.

11. Capitalism has serious potential to do damage to our capacity for empathy and compassion. It's a dehumanizing system.

12. I believe our addiction to the system of capitalism requires us to imagine it can bring us happiness.

13. What is the point of desiring excessive wealth, if not that we think it generates happiness?

14. But because of dynamic already described, with each increment of happiness bought, another piece of one's humanity is sacrificed.

15. In other words, it is impossible for a person of moral conscience to become happier through the accumulation of wealth.

16. So this means 1 of 2 things. Either we're a civilization lacking in conscience or we're a civilization lacking in true happiness.

17. What's especially ironic is that the language of capitalism is conflated with the language of liberty and empowerment.

18. But capitalism is actually a very oppressive system. Either you're denied dignity and liberty by being a "loser" in the system...

19. Or you're asked to deny your own human instincts of compassion and empathy for other people by being a "winner" in the system.

20. Either way, by participating in the system, you've given up some of self-sovereignty. 

Series first tweeted by Cynthia Boaz on June 21, 2010.
The Huffington Post
Follow Cynthia Boaz on Twitter: www.twitter.com/cynthiaboaz

This is Cynthia's critique. Here are some other thoughts and comments by others:

- For me, it's important that you do come up with an alternative, Doc, as it would help me to understand exactly what you mean by the immorality of capitalism because I don't see that capitalism is, in itself, immoral. I think it's like a lot of other systems; it can be practiced morally or immorally.
- Competition is also not, in itself, immoral. Every time you play a game with someone there is competition to win and there is a winner and a loser. As long as everyone plays fair, that's not only immoral but is the essence of playing a game.
- Competition in capitalism is a good thing as long as it's fair competition. Fair competition in capitalism induces capitalists to provide the best possible product or service at the lowest possible price so that the consumer will purchase from them. I don't see anything inherently immoral about that.
- One of the first hurdles we come up against in addressing an inequitable system is facing up to our privilege. It's a fundamental difference between progressives and conservatives. No one likes to be reminded of their privilege — whether it’s white privilege, heterosexual privilege, male privilege, or class privilege — because acknowledging that privilege commutes responsibility for that privilege, and the day-by-day, moment-to-moment decision to perpetuate that privilege or know — while knowing the consequences it imposes on others.
- Whether we asked for our privilege or not — acknowledging it, if we don’t want to be responsible for perpetuating it and the injustice it perpetuates, means changing how we are in the world, day-by-day and moment-to-moment.
- If you can rationalize your privilege, and rationalize related inequities on the flip-side, then you don’t have to change how you are in the world; because all is right with the world, no matter how bad it is for somebody else.
- In fact, your privilege — whether it stems from your race, gender, sexual orientation, economic status, etc. — doesn’t even exist. The whole world is suddenly a meritocracy. What you have, you deserve, basically because you have it. And the “have-nots”? Well, if they deserved it, they’d have it.
- Power is conducive to evil. It's not a capitalism-only thing. - I don't think it's necessary (nor considered requisite fairness) for you to devise an alternative, with your alternative being dumping yourself into the GOP or Tea Party. I think critiquing a system for it's own sake is worthy and important, and helps people understand what they are participating in. The analysis is necessary before any consideration can be given to an alternative, and that alternative is certainly not your responsibility (it's ALL of our responsibilities). Frankly, I feel that when the response to this piece is solely to challenge you to state your alternative, that is a clear sign of a person who is not willing to face or consider what you've unveiled. It's a deflection. I think it's a great piece, and I can relate to the growing despondency over our capitalist system I detect in it.

...

Interesting thoughts...

Gong Show Rant

This G8/G20 boondoggle is infuriating.  There are fences all the way up to Huntsville, a police state in downtown Toronto, and a ridiculously ugly $57,000 kiddies swimming pool for the media on the shore of Lake Ontario.  The billion dollar price tag for this charade is insane.  The politicians deem it a necessity...we have to have these meetings for the world's super-elite, and put the cost of it on the working classes.  Make a fuss about it and the Cons will ignore you, as they always do.  How do we know whether it's going to be worth it or not yet?  Indeed.

Harper figured that having the G20 meeting in downtown Toronto would showcase Canada's financial prowess, even though all the bankers and investors are taking the next couple of days off because Bay Street is now a militarized zone and they fear for their lives from the yet-to-appear throngs of insane, violent protestors.  I hope that they do show up and deaths occur...if only to justify the (holy shit!) billion dollar price tag.  Harper is a fucking idiot....what the hell were he and his strategists thinking?  Not about much other than themselves, once again, apparently.

And it's all happening in this shithole of a city.  I've been here two weeks too long already.  I keep giving southern Ontario extra chances to change my mind on what a crappy place it is, but this trip is another FAIL.  Gotta get somewhere?  Well, just hop in a fucking car and sit in some fucking traffic in this ugly city.  The people are all self-absorbed, stressed, rude, and high-strung.  Anyone I know here who is decent is not from here.  Everyone else will have a 'conversation' with you, but the entire chat is truly spent enduring Ontarians talk about themselves, their awesome lives living in a shithole, and how the rest of Canada including where you are from is worth ridicule since it isn't here.  Really?  Is it possible you people can talk more about yourselves, please?  My ears aren't bleeding enough yet.

I got the old, "You're from Manitoba?  Oh I'm so sorry." bullshit line more than once here, or "You're from the West Coast, oh I couldn't live there; it rains all the time".  Yeah, shut up you Ontario asshole. It's all a joke to you and the universe that revolves around your ego, isn't it?  Screw you!

I've been trying to get people to look me in the eye as they pass by, no luck yet.  And don't get me started on this disgusting humidity, still more tornadoes, and even an earthquake to top things off. I'm counting the minutes until I get out of here.

I remember now why I always go to Montreal and not Toronto when I end up in the East.  It's because people are actually real there and they honestly care about other people.  And they don't incessantly talk just about themselves all the time.  It's obvious the Ontario factor rots everyone's brains here, including the politicians.

Once again, I reiterate the solution to the spiralling G8/G20 expense 'crisis', why doesn't the cabal of greedy old white men just collectively buy an island nation in the middle of the Pacific and have their meetings there whenever they feel they're warranted?  They can build their Dr. Evil lair there and blow smoke up each other's asses as much as they want, out of the public eye, away from protestors, and with as much security as they feel their inflated egos need.  Leave the rest of us alone like you do the other 363 days a year, you fucks.

16 June 2010

BU2B (Brought Up To Believe) - Rush

(written by Neil Peart)

I was brought up to believe
The universe has a plan
We are only human
It’s not ours to understand

The universe has a plan
All is for the best
Some will be rewarded
And the devil take the rest

All is for the best
Believe in what we’re told
Blind men in the market
Buying what we’re sold
Believe in what we’re told
Until our final breath
While our loving Watchmaker
Loves us all to death

In a world of cut and thrust
I was always taught to trust
In a world where all must fail
Heaven’s justice will prevail

The joy and pain that we receive
Each comes with its own cost
The price of what we’re winning
Is the same as what we’ve lost

Until our final breath
The joy and pain that we receive
Must be what we deserve
I was brought up to believe

10 May 2010

Vancouver Sun Run May 9, 2010

51,000 runners participated in yesterday's 10K race on a beautiful Vancouver day.  The winner was done in 29:02!!!  Pics are courtesy the Vancouver Sun.

08 May 2010

Dear Mom

Dear Mom,

What I meant to say was...how can we possibly express our profound gratitude to the person who was the first to hold us, the first to feed us, and the first to make us feel loved?

From a distance we watch you move about, doing the mundane tasks that to everyone else seem so routine. But for us, the tasks you lovingly completed year after year built and reinforced the foundation, the structure that made our world a safe and comfortable place to grow.

All that we are and all that we have can be traced back to you. Whatever accomplishments we have made along the way would not have occurred without you first believing in us. And you, you were the person who always believed in us.

Now with our family, we are amazed at the number of times we hear your words flow form our mouths. This ventriloquistic phenomenon was at first most irritating, but now warms us as we have come to understand that there is a part of you that will live on in us forever.

When time parts us, we pray that you will reach across from the other side to again touch our face and whisper into our ears.

For your warms and gentle presence in our lives...for this, we will always be most thankful.

Yes, Mother, you inspire us!

This is a letter I got a copy of from Murad that I wanted to pass on to my mother and all the mothers out there. Happy Mother's Day, Mom! I love you very much.

20 April 2010

To Those I Love

I found more of Murad's papers I had today in piles of stuff I'm going through now that it's tax time.  There are two poems here, one to Mothers that I'll post in May and the other to those who've died that I've posted below.  I had borrowed them from Murad to copy; it seems so ironic that they gave him strength several years ago when his mother died and they've surfaced in my possession now.  Ugh -- All these people we've already lost this year, it's such a challenge to cope with their disappearance from our lives. I look forward to seeing them all again soon.

To Those I Love and Those Who Loved Me

When I am gone, release me, let me go
I have so many things to see and do.
You must not tie yourself to me with tears;
Be happy that we had these precious years.

I gave to you my love, you can only guess,
How much you gave me in happiness.
I thank you for the love you each have shown,
But now it's time I travelled on alone.

So grieve a while for me if grieve you must,
Then let your grief be comforted by trust.
It's only for a while that we must part,
So bless the memories within your heart.

I won't be far away, for life goes on;
So if you need me, call and I will come,
Though you can't see me or touch me, I'll be near,
And if you listen with your heart, you will hear
All of my love around you soft and clear.

And then, when you must come this way alone,
I'll greet you with a smile and say welcome home.

08 April 2010

Death is nothing at all

Death is nothing at all

I have only slipped away into the next room

I am I and you are you

Whatever we were to each other

That we are still

Call me by my old familiar name

Speak to me in the easy way you always used

Put no difference into your tone

Wear no forced air of solemnity or sorrow

Laugh as we always laughed

At the little jokes we always enjoyed together

Play, smile, think of me, pray for me

Let my name be ever the household word that it always was

Let it be spoken without effort

Without the ghost of a shadow in it

Life means all that it ever meant

It is the same as it ever was

There is absolute unbroken continuity

What is death but a negligible accident?

Why should I be out of mind

Because I am out of sight?

I am waiting for you for an interval

Somewhere very near

Just around the corner

All is well.

Nothing is past; nothing is lost

One brief moment and all will be as it was before

How we shall laugh at the trouble of parting when we meet again!



Canon Henry Scott-Holland, 1847-1918, Canon of St Paul's Cathedral

26 March 2010

Just Say No to Socialism

A day in the life of a Tea Partier/Teabagger:

This morning I was awoken by my alarm clock powered by electricity generated by the public power monopoly regulated by the US Department of Energy. I then took a shower in the clean water provided by the municipal water utility. After that, I turned on the TV to one of the FCC regulated channels to see what the National Weather Service of the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration determined the weather was going to be like using satellites designed, built, and launched by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. I watched this while eating breakfast of US Department of Agriculture inspected food and taking the drugs which have been determined as safe by the Food and Drug Administration.

At the appropriate time as regulated by the US Congress and kept accurate by the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the US Naval Observatory. I get into my National Highway Traffic Safety Administration approved automobile and set out to work on the roads built by the local, state, and federal departments of transportation, possibly stopping to purchase additional fuel of a quality level determined by the Environmental Protection Agency, using legal tender issued by the Federal Reserve bank. On the way out the door I deposit any mail I have to send via the US Postal Service and drop the kids off at the public school.

After work, I drive my NHTSA car back home on the DOT roads, to a house which has not burned down in my absence because of the state and local building codes and fire marshal's inspection, and which has not been plundered of all it's valuables thanks to the local police department.

I then log on to the internet which was developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Administration and post on freerepublic.com and Fox News forums about how SOCIALISM in medicine is BAD because the government can't do anything right.

These people are uninformed and dangerous.

-stolen from the web somewhere...

11 March 2010

Super funny

Erica Sigurdson is the woman who comments on the 'gaybashers' who fill the Davie Village streets in the summertime. "This is our neighborhood, this is how we live. We don't go to Surrey and read!"

...Erica Sigurdson, on being a Mom in Vancouver.

I don't have kids myself because I don't own enough yoga gear, that's the uniform for moms in this city - head-to-toe Lululemon - while buying organic baby food - because you have to have a free-range baby - and speaking sign language to their babies, all the while pushing their kids in strollers the size of Smart Cars. How fast are you running with a baby that you need mountain bike tires and brakes? Whenever I see a handbrake on a stroller, I lose my mind. Why do you need a handbrake? You get that you're pushing it - right? It doesn't even make sense. We all know what happens when we slam on the brakes. Let's say you're running around the Seawall with your baby and something dangerous happens and you try to stop by slamming on the brakes - you'd actually flip over the stroller, and the last thing you would see as you went down is your baby, flying into the Burrard Inlet signing "Help!".

08 March 2010

Good Grief

After initial SHOCK wears off, comes:

denial
anger
bargaining
depression
acceptance

Where am I now? Probably wavering somewhere between depression and acceptance, depending on the day, my mood and what I'm doing.

I'm trying to end up with a positive outcome, that Murad left me in better condition than when he first met me. I'm trying to work through the grief ensuring that positive ends come from difficult, sad means. I really want to respect his life by ensuring that the lessons I got from the way he did things and what he believed are activated and pursued by integrating them into my life as part of who I am.

Everyone we meet comes into our lives for a reason and has some effect on us (and/or us on them). We are meant to integrate these effects into our behaviour, personality and discourse in order that we continue to work towards our ultimate being and understanding of who we are and what our purpose is.

03 March 2010

Good Riddance!

Hummer, symbol of machismo, may be headed to graveyard
By Wayne Drash, CNN
March 3, 2010 1:03 p.m. EST

Atlanta, Georgia (CNN) -- Love it or hate it, the Hummer came to symbolize American might over the years -- tires the size of Texas, a chrome grill that looked primed to eat up wimpy cars in its path, and its drivers with egos to match their mammoth-mobiles.

But the iconic vehicle -- a symbol for macho men like Arnold Schwarzenegger and ridiculed worldwide by environmentalists -- is headed toward the auto graveyard.

General Motors last week announced the likely end of the Hummer after a deal with a Chinese automaker fell through. The news thrilled many who have protested the guzzler for years: Good riddance!

But for Hummer owners, the reaction remains mixed. Most mourn the impending death of their beloved behemoths but celebrate the fact that the Hummer won't be outsourced to China: Whose harebrained idea was that anyway?! Ain't no Hummer meant to be made in China!

Owners are hoping for a last-minute buyer to emerge before the Hummer joins the maligned Pinto in the scrapyard. GM has said it is trying to salvage the Hummer, setting May 1 as a deadline for other possible deals to be made.

Hasta la vista, Hummer A single sticky note, left on Russ Builta's 2005 Hummer, sums up the emotion stirred by the super-sized SUVs. "You are polluting our air and abusing our national resources," the unsigned note said. "And all because of greed and selfishness. You should be very ashamed of yourself."
Builta, who served in the Marine Corps, still gets mad: "It was not even on recycled paper!"

Builta installed a supercharger that gave his Hummer a whopping 600 horsepower. When he really mashed the pedal, it got 1 mile per gallon. "It would just move," he told CNN iReport.

After the HMMWV rolled off the AM General assembly line in Indiana on January 2, 1985, it represented a new breed of American military might and toughness.

In 1992, production of the civilian Hummer began, instantly creating a fraternity among owners of the SUV-on-growth hormone. They exchange photos of their trucks, chat over the Internet and plan for their next muddin' sessions.

They laugh at tree huggers who give them the finger as they cruise down the road.

"I hate to see it die," says iReporter Michael Tawdy of Tennessee, who owns a 2006 H3. "You can go anywhere you want."

It's my yin and yang.

The Hummer even shares its name with a sexual term. How many cars can stake that claim? And the vehicle became fodder for late-night comedians and Internet jokes.

"You might be driving a Hummer," says one joke on a Web site devoted to the vehicle, "if you can't reach far enough to slap the person sitting in the passenger seat."

The grass-roots social justice group CodePink created an anti-Hummer campaign during the height of the Bush administration, including a Top Ten Reasons Not To Buy A Hummer. At the top of the list: "The Gas Mileage Alone Will Kill You."

Billy Paniaha of North Carolina gets speechless when talking about his chrome-and-gray-mobile. "I love my Hummer," he told iReport.

In one photo, he's leaning against his mud-caked Hummer, which looks like it just wallowed in a pigpen. "Trust me, these tree huggers in their Priuses. ... If a Prius hits me, I won't get hurt. They will."

Raymond Winbush isn't your ordinary Hummer owner. A lover of his giant SUV, he also owns -- are you ready for this? -- a Toyota Prius.

"People think I'm kidding when I say I have both cars, but I do," said Winbush, an author and the director of the Institute for Urban Research at Morgan State University.

"If you combine my carbon footprint ... I don't feel real guilty about it."

A resident of Baltimore, Maryland, he uses the Hummer to get through the East Coast's brutal winters. During last month's storm, which left the region under a couple of feet of snow, he helped get doctors and nurses to and from a hospital, thanks to his Hummer.

When winter ends, his machismo-meter goes down. He grabs his man purse and hops into his Prius. "My son calls it the nerd-mobile," he said. "I've had more people razz me about the Prius than I have the Hummer."

"It's my yin and yang. I think they balance each other out."

Candi Angotti of Texas is just the opposite. She wouldn't be caught dead in a Prius.

The president of the Texas chapter of Club Hummer Offroad, she's been driving her solar-flare metallic orange Hummer for three years.

"I use it what it was built for -- off-roading and adventures -- and it has never let me down," she said. "I have met a great group of guys and girls, and we're like a big family."

The owners now have one more thing in common: They're sporting a likely collector's item. But Builta's the exception. He got rid of his Hummer. And he still misses it.

15 February 2010

Valentine's Day

Despite all the elation of Canada winning two medals yesterday and the gold that breaks the Canadian home-soil curse, I ended up spending a lot of hours just wandering around the Olympic sites and the seawall in reflection, not really motivated to join in on the party.

It was difficult to see all the guys around the city heading home with bouquets of flowers knowing that I was the odd guy out...alone at Valentine's day, not by choice. I would sort of look like an outlier datapoint in a Venn Diagram...not in the 'couple' circle, but not in the 'single' one either; somewhere in a bubble not really connected to either of the two main groups. Sunday, Feb. 14 was the official one-month date since Murad died. Things are still very hard. I am distressed at how up-and-down I feel from day to day. There is no consistency in how I feel from hour to hour. I had a wonderful night out with our friends on Saturday night, but on Sunday I was moody and distant again. It's very weird. It's very easy for me to get myself out of social situations these days, which is very atypical.

I tried to get into the excitement and spirit of the Olympic events yesterday. Once they started tooting all the patriotic 'I Believe' stuff after Bilodeau's win, I became upset even more since I knew how excited Murad was about the Olympics and how passionate he was about cheering for Canada. He had the full ensemble of Vancouver 2010 gear from the Olympic Superstore (only made crazier by his HBC discount!) and we were planning on attending lots of events together. Every time I see someone wearing his 2010 hat or the red 2010 t-shirt, it makes me think of him. We were going to be 'blue and green' wherever we went over the next couple of weeks. I wanted so much to go to some Olympic events with him and even though I have had the opportunity now to go to a few ticketed events, it just doesn't seem the same to go without him and I have, so far, turned down any offers to buy tickets to anything. It was the same as the Palm Springs trip...I was physically there, but not mentally. Nothing seems to feel as good as it should because Murad isn't there and I know how much more special each situation would be if he was. I keep imagining how much more happy I would be sharing all these experiences with him; a situation, or an event that is going on, and that with him not being there, the situation is muted, less colorful, less joyous. I guess this is all very normal, but it sure isn't very fun and it's not very consistent which makes it even more frustrating.

Seeing all the couples yesterday walking the Seawall holding hands, arm in arm, in the restaurant windows....to express any emotional currency to anyone these days does not interest me...my self-confidence has been shattered as has my propensity to express anything emotional through that lack of confidence. Out of obligation I feel that I have to divest in certain situations, but I so don't really care that much right now to actually put a lot of effort into it. It really sucks as I love my friends and I love meeting new people, normally...

I stopped at Sunset Beach very close to Murad's apartment and sat on the logs on the beach for a while in the dark. I was within view of the beautifully-lit trees at the corner of Beach and Bidwell, which was one of our favorite spots, and under the floodlights of Vectorial Elevation. The water in English Bay was very calm. It was a nice spot to sit and think about the past two months and how they have changed my life forever.

Eventually things will brighten. I mean, they have to, right? I know that right now I'm dwelling on things that were and might have been and not thinking about how things are. The shock is gone but the disbelief isn't. In time I will accept this new reality. In time I will get my bearings back and start getting comfortable approaching life as 'just me' again. I keep thinking that this has to happen soon for my own sanity, but it isn't happening quickly, and I have to accept that it takes some time to process all this through my tiny brain. I will be able to move on once I fully appreciate that Murad is no longer a part of my physical and emotional life.

When I start to honestly think about this, it really feels like I'm starting all over again. I don't like this very much. It's like I might have just as well moved to Vancouver right now as opposed to almost ten months ago since I feels like I've undergone a reboot of my entire system over the past month.

I will go to Murad's gravesite after work again today to spend a few minutes with my Valentine.

I hope that everyone that had someone to celebrate Valentine's Day or the wins for Canada with did so to the fullest extent of love, passion, and emotion they could share with that person or group of people. It can all change so quickly; suddenly all that you take for granted and enjoy so much is gone and you're left standing dumbfounded amongst a bunch of shattered pieces of your life. I guess in the whole scheme of things everything is terminal but while things are going good, we should all enjoy them as much as we possibly can, not just on Valentine's Day but every day.

13 February 2010

We Are More

“We Are More” by Shane Koyczan

When defining Canada
you might list some statistics
you might mention our tallest building
or biggest lake
you might shake a tree in the fall
and call a red leaf Canada
you might rattle off some celebrities
might mention Buffy Sainte-Marie
might even mention the fact that we’ve got a few
Barenaked Ladies
or that we made these crazy things
like zippers
electric cars
and washing machines
when defining Canada
it seems the world’s anthem has been
” been there done that”
and maybe that’s where we used to be at
it’s true
we’ve done and we’ve been
we’ve seen
all the great themes get swallowed up by the machine
and turned into theme parks
but when defining Canada
don’t forget to mention that we have set sparks

we are not just fishing stories
about the one that got away
we do more than sit around and say “eh?”
and yes

we are the home of the Rocket and the Great One
who inspired little number nines
and little number ninety-nines
but we’re more than just hockey and fishing lines
off of the rocky coast of the Maritimes
and some say what defines us
is something as simple as please and thank you
and as for you’re welcome
well we say that too
but we are more
than genteel or civilized
we are an idea in the process
of being realized
we are young
we are cultures strung together
then woven into a tapestry
and the design
is what makes us more
than the sum total of our history
we are an experiment going right for a change
with influences that range from a to zed
and yes we say zed instead of zee
we are the colours of Chinatown and the coffee of Little Italy
we dream so big that there are those
who would call our ambition an industry
because we are more than sticky maple syrup and clean snow
we do more than grow wheat and brew beer
we are vineyards of good year after good year
we reforest what we clear
because we believe in generations beyond our own
knowing now that so many of us
have grown past what used to be
we can stand here today

filled with all the hope people have
when they say things like “someday”

someday we’ll be great
someday we’ll be this
or that
someday we’ll be at a point
when someday was yesterday
and all of our aspirations will pay the way
for those who on that day
look towards tomorrow
and still they say someday

we will reach the goals we set
and we will get interest on our inspiration
because we are more than a nation of whale watchers and lumberjacks
more than backpacks and hiking trails
we are hammers and nails building bridges
towards those who are willing to walk across
we are the lost-and-found for all those who might find themselves at a loss
we are not the see-through gloss or glamour
of those who clamour for the failings of others
we are fathers brothers sisters and mothers
uncles and nephews aunts and nieces
we are cousins
we are found missing puzzle pieces
we are families with room at the table for newcomers
we are more than summers and winters
more than on and off seasons
we are the reasons people have for wanting to stay
because we are more than what we say or do
we live to get past what we go through

and learn who we are
we are students
students who study the studiousness of studying
so we know what as well as why
we don’t have all the answers
but we try
and the effort is what makes us more
we don’t all know what it is in life we’re looking for
so keep exploring
go far and wide
or go inside but go deep
go deep
as if James Cameron was filming a sequel to The Abyss
and suddenly there was this location scout
trying to figure some way out
to get inside you
because you’ve been through hell and high water
and you went deep
keep exploring
because we are more
than a laundry list of things to do and places to see
we are more than hills to ski
or countryside ponds to skate
we are the abandoned hesitation of all those who can’t wait
we are first-rate greasy-spoon diners and healthy-living cafes
a country that is all the ways you choose to live
a land that can give you variety
because we are choices
we are millions upon millions of voices shouting
” keep exploring… we are more”
we are the surprise the world has in store for you
it’s true

Canada is the “what” in “what’s new?”
so don’t say “been there done that”
unless you’ve sat on the sidewalk
while chalk artists draw still lifes
on the concrete of a kid in the street
beatboxing to Neil Young for fun
don’t say you’ve been there done that
unless you’ve been here doing it
let this country be your first-aid kit
for all the times you get sick of the same old same old
let us be the story told to your friends
and when that story ends
leave chapters for the next time you’ll come back
next time pack for all the things
you didn’t pack for the first time
but don’t let your luggage define your travels
each life unravels differently
and experiences are what make up
the colours of our tapestry
we are the true north
strong and free
and what’s more
is that we didn’t just say it
we made it be.

—–

03 February 2010

Warm Sands

This morning was difficult. I got to YVR at around 6:45 late late late and Westjet had already closed the gate for my flight to Palm Springs. The check-in staff managed to get me through but I don't think they expected me to make the flight since I had to get through security and U.S. Customs and the flight was to begin boarding at 7:10. Another testament to not bringing any carry-on crap...I was at the gate at around 7:20. The flight was in the air at 7:50. YVR is getting streamlined for some reason; good for them! :)

I got choked up a few times on the flight. The original reason for a large part of this trip was planned as a recuperation trip for Murad once he got out of the hospital. We had planned to hang out by the pool, check out the Palm Springs gondola and the shopping centers in Palm Springs and Palm Desert and some of the other sites such as Andreas Canyon and the Wind turbine tours. I had a picture we took of us in our seats on our flight to Chicago in November that brought me to tears again. It just seems to surreal to be doing this trip without him. Now it's just a trip alone for me to try and catch a grip on my life again and lick my wounds. I can't put into words how much I miss him.

I've been reading a book called "Life After Loss" that my friend Neall gave me and quite often passages in it will choke me up. Today I came upon part of the grief healing exercises where it suggests writing letters to your lost one at particular intervals over the first year of grieving and to read the letters regularly until you can do it without breaking down. I think this is a great idea and will be an exercise I will begin attempting tomorrow. I know most of what I want to say to him, but I want to be sure that I don't miss anything...I'm looking at this as being a one-time deal, as if he's only going to be able to hear me read it to him only once, therefore it needs to be as complete as possible. I am planning more thoughtful (and not so sleep-deprived) hours at the pool tomorrow so this will be a good thing to do.

Tomorrow I am also planning on going to the El Paseo shopping district. Tomorrow afternoon is the El Paseo Art Walk, I think it might be interesting to check out.

Friday will be a complete pool deck day before the Los Angeles crew shows up for the weekend in the evening.

...

I have something that's bothering me. I went to Murad's gravesite last Friday evening before coming downtown after work. The week after the funeral I had put two beautiful roses on his grave along with a picture of him with some writing on the back. On Friday, one of the roses was gone. It didn't blow away; there are other flowers there. I'm not sure what to make of this and I'm trying to not let it bother me but it does cross my mind again from time to time. There was no indication with what I left there who might have written the notes and put the picture and roses there, so I'm not sure why someone would take one of the roses? First I thought that someone else in the cemetery needed a flower, thus took one from Murad's grave since there were two there, but that sounds kinda stupid. Then I thought maybe someone thought having two there was 'inappropriate', thus removed one. Maybe it was offensive to have two there? I'm not sure. I don't really understand this, but it kinda bugs me. I think it's sort of insensitive, like someone is judging someone else's grieving process. Sorry, I just needed to rant about it.

Okay, I'm off to bed. Good night.

30 January 2010

Ongoing


Today I'm throwing out the last of the bereavement floral arrangements...an action that's yanking me back into tears again. I'm making one last combo arrangement out of all the hardy survivors that still look lively that will probably last another week or so. One happy thing though is that I've saved and dried every rose Murad gave me. I now have a full container of pre-pot pourri fodder that will give me another subtle reminder of what I loved and lost everytime I walk into my house.

28 January 2010

The perception of perspectives

It's weird how a few days can change everything in your life. Sunday January 10th was one of the best days in recent memory. Wednesday January 13th was the worst day of my life.

On that Sunday, Murad was feeling down both physically and emotionally, so I gladly spent a relaxing day snoozing and cuddling with him in his hospital bed, giving him a massage, watching movies and talking. It was a wonderful day that made us both happy. He had lost his appetite again so fed me his hospital food when it came into the room.

His condition didn't change much on Monday, but on Tuesday Murad turned yellow as his liver started to shut down and the medical staff suddenly became a lot more alarmed about his condition. He began to get disoriented (originally attributed to his dosages of Delotid painkillers and the effects of his non-functioning liver). I spent the night with him in his room on Tuesday night, but was so distraught by his pain and wandering around the room plus the stress of still trying to make appearances at work, I had to leave the hospital in tears around 4am in order to get a few hours of sleep. I was back at his side at 8am, alarmed that things had taken such a sudden turn for the worse. It was at this time we discovered he was no longer producing urine, and his kidneys we no longer functioning. I decided not to go into work until his catheter was replaced (they were trying to eliminate the possibility that something had become blocked) and his bone marrow biopsy was done. His sister Anissa was back from Miami so she sat with him during the afternoon while I went into work around 2pm for a few hours in the afternoon. I was back at the hospital by 5.

From 5pm to midnight on Wednesday, I could only watch as my lover fell apart before my eyes, powerless and angry that I could do nothing for him but hug him, hold his hands, caress his head and try to comfort him. At the time I couldn't conceive that this would be our last day together. In the evening he was in so much distress, all I could do was support him while he tried to stand up and sit down to relieve his pain. We had several long long hugs. I was very upset that he had broken into a cold sweat and was becoming more visibly distressed by the hour while trying to swat off the lab rats who were showing up in the hospital room what seemed every 15 minutes for more blood samples from a body that had no more blood to give. I didn't realize it at the time but I think he knew he didn't have much time and was hugging me goodbye. Just before he was wheeled down to ICU we gave each other one last long look. It was going to be the last time I ever saw him as living Murad, the person I loved. He was no longer able to communicate verbally but we could tell what the other was thinking by what the eyes were saying. He was very scared, so was I.

I am still trying to figure out what Murad was thinking at that moment - was he scared because he knew he was going to die? Was he scared because the future was uncertain? Was he distressed, mentally impaired, or overly disoriented by that time? As someone pointed out to me later, maybe he was scared because he realized he was going to lose me and everything else that had meaning to him in this world? Maybe all of these crossed his mind at the same time which would seem a reasonable assumption. The speculation will haunt me forever without any answers, obviously, but I will never ever forget that final look in his eyes as he looked at me for the last time. It was terrifying.

The doctors came out of ICU around 2am and told us that Murad had basically quit breathing on his own. There was a strong possibility of brain and heart damage. When we got into ICU to see him at 2:30am, he was completely hooked up to machines and unconscious. His open eyes had broken blood vessels in them, and there was one tear rolling down his face...something I remember vividly. The machines were breathing for him, his body would shudder with each inhalation/exhalation cycle of the respirator. I went into complete shock after realization of the gravity of the situation hit me.

Thursday, the day he died, was physically more upsetting than mentally. I was so distraught and sleep-deprived by Thursday morning that when the call came from the SPH social worker at 8:30am stating that Murad had only hours or minutes to live, I already knew he wasn't going to survive the day. Reality hit me as I collapsed into a pile or tears on my apartment couch while trying to get ready to head to the hospital for one last day. I made the difficult call to Doug and Ian to meet me at ICU as soon as they could. I had wanted to spend the night in the ICU waiting room but the family convinced me to go home since there was nothing more I could do for him. We still dropped his belongings at his apartment on the way home at 3am; I was still convinced that I would be going back there to pick them up for him soon once he was out of ICU again. I was still prepared to be by his side no matter what shape he was in once he got out of this situation. How quickly the perspective changed.

He wasn't under the influence of any drugs at this time but was unconscious. His eyes were closed. We took turns talking to him. I rubbed and scratched his head over and over again. He was so cold. His sister Tasnim sang to him after she arrived in the morning, and his falling heartrate sped up for a period of time after she would sing to him. Bastions of family members shuffled by his bedside paying their last respects to him. I'm not sure how much of all of this he was able to sense. Many still prayed for a miracle. I was willing to try anything to save Murad, so I prayed along with his family.

Murad died at 3:35pm while the family and I were in conference with the ICU medical staff. His blood pressure had fallen so low there was no way his body was going to be able to maintain itself. He was so full of toxins from his faltering kidneys and liver the dialysis machine he was hooked up to couldn't keep up. His father and sister had only arrived at the hospital less than an hour before. Doug and Ian were at his bedside when his heart stopped. They told him that none of us wanted to see him go, but if he was ready that would be okay.

I've been sort of in a fog ever since. It's been two weeks since he died and a week ago yesterday was the funeral. I've been out to the cemetery three times in the past week (it's only a 15 minute walk from my office), and helping to clean out his apartment four of the last seven nights. It was difficult to move all of his stuff out and do the final checkout on his apartment....last night was the last time I'll ever be at his place. But I am glad that his friends got to claim the best of his clothing and belongings....his fabulousness will transcend his physical self when others are spotted wearing his bold styles and marvellous footwear! I'm also glad that almost all of his furniture will be used by a new immigrant family from Kenya to set themselves up in Vancouver. I managed to hold onto some of his boldest outfits -- the ones that personify Murad most elegantly, IMO, in addition to a few of his favorite pieces of art. Unfortunately we never got to find a good home for his bed and futon, we simply ran out of time. Hmm, running out of time...

I've noticed over the past few days I haven't cried as much as a week ago and I'm starting to feel a bit more level. I still feel such a huge chunk missing from my whole and I haven't quite figured out how to even go about starting to mend it, and I also haven't had much energy or incentive to do much else than drag my ass into work this week and spend the evenings at home on the couch, just thinking and looking at pictures. I've felt the need to talk to others but not the initiative to pick up the phone. Why would I burden people with no vested interest with such upsetting conversation? Why would anyone want to listen? Why would I want to repeat myself over and over again? Typical thought from last week...."I can't call anyone right now, it's 1am and I'm collapsed on the couch but everyone's asleep."

Why won't someone call? Guh. What's the point? I've barely replied back to anyone. There were so many that called and wrote; I just couldn't muster the energy to respond. A week or so ago, all the people that tried to contact me was overwhelming and I couldn't cope with it. Now, no one's trying to contact me and I feel completely alone. This death thing is very strange and complicated, indeed.

...

He had been sick basically since the beginning of December and I know at the time I was angry, frustrated and upset that the holidays, my birthday, and New Years were going to be ruined because Murad was in the hospital.

Despite all of his pain and stress, he hosted an amazing birthday party for me on December 18th, the same evening the blood vessels in his skin irritated and rashed and only three days before he was admitted into the hospital for the last time.

In my imminent selfishness I was angry that he was going to be in the hospital for the holidays -- all those great plans quashed for this year. Of course, I put on my best face and spent as much time at the hospital as I could. I know this situation completely and utterly sucked for him and in addition to being physically sick, he was also mentally stressed and I wanted to make him feel as comfortable as possible. He kept apologizing again and again and again to me for what he was putting me through....I can't even imagine how he felt, despite my reassurances that nothing mattered more than him recovering and getting the hell out of the hospital.

Being with him was all that mattered despite the impact it might have on me. There were moments when I felt I couldn't cope with the burden of caring for him in the hospital as his entire family was in Florida for the holidays. At one point I asked him to have someone cut their holiday short and come back to help with what was going on. I went back the next day and apologized for being so selfish. He and I could do this together. If only I knew then what I know now.

On New Year's eve, despondent that I was going to be spending my birthday and the New Year's celebration with Murad at the hospital, I came into the ward in the evening after work to discover two dozen red roses there that Murad had arranged to have delivered to the hospital for me. His niece had arranged the drop off but had forgotten to bring a card to attach to the vase. Murad, in his typical creative form, fashioned something to write on by using a strip of medical tape to attach to the vase. On it, he wrote, "Bubu you are the best thing that has ever happened to me. Happy birthday. Love your Mumu".

Despite this being a horrible couple of months, my perspective of the hospital time has changed a lot after everything has unfolded the way it did. Instead of looking at at those three weeks in the hospital as a regrettable experience, I am now looking at it as a very special moment in time, a unique opportunity to spend uninterrupted time with this remarkable man that I fell in love with. It was during the holidays; nothing was open, there was no one around, there were no distractions. There were several days between Christmas Eve and New Years when Murad was very unwell and in ICU (25th-28th) that I spent 16 or 17 hours at the hospital with him each day. I will remember those days forever.

Through some of the stuff I'm reading (god knows my friends that have lost lovers or spouses have been an essential source of help for me to date), I've realized that grieving is the last act of love we have to give those who have died. It seems so final and dramatic, and certainly all that has happened is, I guess, both. I've been very sad the past couple of weeks, but I know that I will/must grieve positively because it is the best and only acceptable way for me to honor an amazing man who gave me so much in so short a time.

When going through a his stuff at his apartment with his sister and niece a week ago, I looked through a bunch of his old photos from the 90s and earlier part of this decade and fascinated at his life. I said to his sister Nafisa, "I'm so jealous that you got to witness Murad's life...I only knew of his last year and I wish that I knew the whole man. We met so late. I only wish I had had more time."
She replied by saying, "You know what Reid? We're jealous of you. You got share his life with him for a short time, spending the past six months with him and the last three weeks in the hospital with him. You got to share his final days, something that the rest of us wish we had but only you had."

Nafisa's response gave me a moment of clarity. We can wish and hope all we want, but all that really matters is the now. Things can change in an instant and if you don't say and do the things you want to say and do today, you may not get the opportunity tomorrow. Funny how perspectives can change so quickly, eh?

I'm trying not to shut myself off from the world that continues outside unabated but it's hard. For the first time in my life, I opened myself up completely to someone. For different reasons, I believe we were both at a point in our lives where we were open to any experiences and possibilities, and were prepared to make ourselves vulnerable in order to find love. It is something that I'd never done to such a degree before and it was quite the experience. Who knew you had to make your self susceptible in order to let someone in? What a concept! I am devastated by the fact that I exposed myself so fully to someone in such a short time, completely assured that we would have all the time in the world to grow on our knowledge of ourselves and the lessons we would learn...and then he disappeared forever. Now that's all gone. I still can't believe it. It doesn't seem real. It certainly doesn't feel the least bit fair.

Regardless, I am trying to approach this in a more constructive way. Even though I only had six months with Murad, the lessons he taught me about love, life and the strength and fragility of both are things that I will have with me for the rest of my life. I am working to integrate these into my being...the worst thing I could do is to ignore or forget these things and live life as if I never learned a these important lessons from this wonderful man.

I still believe it was fate that I met Murad - we had things to teach each other, and we had an intense love to share with each other. We were both open up to the possibilities at the right time. It was a marvellous six months that I will treasure forever. I will eventually get over the fact that it's gone now and respect the experience for what it was...

21 January 2010

Celebration of Murad

My heart is broken that our time together was cut short but I thank the higher power that the Friday night in July when I met Murad we were in the right place at the same time. He gave me so much passion and love in only six months. The intensity of our relationship was overwhelming at times but always left me wanting more. I believed we had lots of time to channel our energy into something incredible and I hesitated at times at the start to jump in completely. I think Murad knew his time here was limited therefore tried to live and love as much as he could as often as he could.

I know I was profoundly loved and he knows he was too. Not just from me, but from everyone he touched.

Every 'heated debate' was always ended with Murad saying, "this is a package deal, take it or leave it". I was amazed how unapologetic he was for who he was and what he was passionate about. It is one of the things I loved about him the most.

Murad was a bright light in a dark room - you had to squint to look at him directly, he was that shiny - and he illuminated everything and everyone around him in a wonderful glow.

I believe I had the fortune to connect with a soulmate. I was even luckier that he was one of the oldest souls one could ever meet.

Out of interest, I googled the key signs of an old soul. How many of these described Murad? I think pretty much all of them.
*giving and caring, often putting others first.
*having a difficult romantic life often with much pain and disappointment.
*more than likely to have a soulmate relationship.
*things just seeming to happen to him and around him, often becoming very dramatic through the seemingly extreme reactions of others.
*events repeating themselves.
*having trouble connecting with family.
*somehow knowing he's different.
*having some psychic intuition and just 'knowing things'.
*finding that he has deeper emotions and passions than most people.
*people having extreme reactions to him - some just adoring him and some seeming to dislike him yet he behaves the same to everyone.
*having an inner creative passion.
*suffering lots of jealousy.
*often being perceived wrongly.
*feeling he doesn't have much free will, like life is being controlled by some outside force.
*often feeling 'stuck' like events keep on happening time after time.

The journey of all of our souls through their many lives is one of growth and learning, from a young soul focused on material things, power, ego and the 'now', to the old soul's higher levels of compassion, truth, destiny, caring, and fairness. Murad's soul was certainly an experienced one.

The main reason soulmates have to part is so that the less developed one catches up with spiritual awakening, connection to his real soul age, and to reconnect with their soulmate to continue the journey at the same level sometime in the future.

Murad taught me so much; how to be vulnerable, how to be resilient, how to be loved, how happiness can be achieved by making those around you happy as well, how to accept that many things are out of our control. He was the oldest of souls. I was so fortunate to have met my soulmatein this existence albeit briefly, have a crazy exchange of new experiences, knowledge and lessons in preparation for the next time we meet. I've never felt so loved in my life and I've never loved anyone so much before. It was destiny that we met and had this incredible journey together. I know he's out there somewhere making other souls look beautiful, surrounding himself with joy and colour.

May the higher power bless you MuMu. I will never forget you, the lessons you taught me, the experiences and emotions you opened me up to, and I look forward to the next time we see each other.

18 January 2010

Murad-ali Hassam Oct. 2 1966 - Jan. 14 2010


My MuMu didn't make it out of ICU and passed on Thursday afternoon. As most of you know he was in the hospital since December 22nd but had been appearing to improve until a sudden downturn in his condition at the end of the past weekend increased in severity and graveness.

It's still a shock and frustrating that our storybook together which just got started will now not get written but I feel so blessed to have met such a remarkable man who impacted my life in so many ways for such a brief intense period. I take solace in knowing he's not in pain anymore and reunited with his mom which he wanted more than anything.

I'm so blessed to have such a wonderful network of family and friends. You truly know what matters in life during times like this.

I will probably be offline for awhile. Thank you everyone for your support.

05 January 2010

Take the Train

Naked airport scanners to be installed in 11 airports within two months
By Jim Bronskill, The Canadian Press

OTTAWA - The government plans to install dozens of scanners that can see through the clothes of travellers in airports across the country.

Transport Minister John Baird will announce plans today to install the machines in 11 airports within two months.

An insider has told The Canadian Press that a total of about 45 scanners, which cost $200,000 apiece, will eventually be in place around Canada.

Initially the machines will turn up in cities including Toronto, Montreal, Ottawa and Vancouver, the source said on condition of anonymity.

The move follows an apparent attempt by a Nigerian man to blow up a jetliner over Michigan by igniting explosives sewn into his underwear.

The system, tested in British Columbia at the Kelowna airport, can enable a screening officer to see whether someone is carrying explosives or other dangerous items.

Last week officials said there were no plans to speed up consideration of the long-discussed scanners in light of the near-disaster.

But the government, under pressure to respond to the dramatic U.S. incident, has decided to make the multimillion-dollar purchase.

The proposal has stirred controversy because the scanner produces a three-dimensional outline of a person's naked body - prompting some to denounce the process as a virtual strip search.

The system received the blessing of the federal privacy czar in October.

Under the plan approved by the privacy chief, the officer would view the image in a separate room and never see the actual traveller.

Only people singled out for extra screening would be scanned, and they would have the option of getting a physical pat-down instead.

Chantal Bernier, the assistant federal privacy commissioner, told a conference the holographic image generated by the scanner makes it difficult to identify the traveller's face.

"You would not know who it is, even if you knew the person was in line," she said at the annual meeting of the Canadian Association for Security and Intelligence Studies.

In addition, the image would be deleted the moment the person leaves the screening portal.

"In our view, these privacy safeguards meet the test for the proper reconciliation of public safety and privacy," Bernier said.

The scanners are already in use at airports in cities including Amsterdam, Moscow and Phoenix. They are also found in the high-security "green zone" of Baghdad and at some U.S. courthouses and prisons.

Bernier added that the Canadian Air Transport Security Authority had done thorough threat assessments that revealed a need to search passengers for weapons that might elude a conventional metal detector.

The privacy commissioner's office recommends a public education campaign to explain the machines, and says minors would be scanned only with the consent of guardians accompanying them.

The air security authority says the low-level radio frequency wave emitted by the body scanner meets Canadian health-and-safety standards.

I'm not so concerned about the privacy issues as the cost. So this will tag an additional $10 million or so onto the Airport Fees, in addition to whatever fuel surcharges we will endure in 2010. So, when is even marginally acceptable train service going to provide us with a viable option to air travel? We're stuck over a barrel, again.

04 January 2010

The Economy of Nothing

Service economy...what a crock. What does that mean exactly? How can you call your economy a legitimate one when you produce nothing of value? Service generation. What are you servicing, who are you servicing? How are they getting these goods and services that you are servicing? It's all about debt and globalization. We used to have the stratification and industrial base here, local and tangible, but now all the heavy lifting has been sent to China and India. What are we left with here? The industry of debt creation and management. Strange ideas, strange days. Everyone's okay with all of this bullshit, that's what perplexes me the most.

Well, the labor economists at Harvard and BLS certainly are stuck inside their respective boxes. NPR reports the new jobs for the new decade:
http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=122123729

Top 10 according to these dim bulbs are:

1. Registered nurses

2. Home health aids

3. Customer service representatives

4. Food preparation and serving workers

5. Personal and home care aides

6. Retail salespersons

7. Office clerks

8. Accountants

9. Nursing aides, orderlies and attendants

10. Postsecondary teachers

No one to make things, nobody growing anything. It's all very surreal.

New World Order | Front Porch Republic

New World Order | Front Porch Republic