Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Dinner for 10

Yesterday, there was a unexpected transit strike here in Toronto. I took the opportunity to call in sick, play a little hooky from work and recharge. I slept until noon, recycling a few dreams in the process. When I woke up, I cooked myself a goat cheese, sundried tomato, black olive and mushroom omelette. Yum! Then I headed out to catch a matinee of X-Men 3 (which was actually pretty good!) It was a much-needed peaceful day.

I stole this from Hattigrace, who made her list a few weeks ago. If you were going to invite 10 deceased people to dinner, who would they be??

My grandfather on my dad's side
I never met him. He passed away before my dad was born. And even though he wasn't around, he had a huge impact on the course of my dad's life, and consequently, my life.

My grandfather on my mom's side

I didn't meet him either. I have only seen pictures. My mother has told me many stories about her father. She clearly had great love for him. My grandfather and grandmother (who is still alive at 96!) fell madly in love at first sight.

I want to know how this one small peaceful man, found the strength, courage and conviction to sway an entire nation. Did he understand his destiny before it found him?

Allan Ginsberg
The granddaddy of beat poets. I was completely destroyed the first time I heard Howl, and it remains my absolute favorite.
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,
starving, hysterical, naked,

dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn looking
for an angry fix,

angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly connection
to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night,

who poverty and tatters and hollow-eyed and high sat up smoking
in the supernatural darkness of cold-water flats floating across
the tops of cities contemplating jazz,

who bared their brains to Heaven under the El and saw Mohammedan angels staggering on tenement roofs illuminated,

who passed through universities with radiant cool eyes hallucinating
Arkansas and Blake-light tragedy among the scholars of war...
Amadeus Mozart
The insane genius who started writing full symphonies as a small child. A man who was convinced that he was writing his own Requiem (death song) - he passed away before it was completed. During my 15 years of piano playing, he was always my favorite composer to play. There's such lightness and grace in his songs.

The original philosopher, dedicated to the pursuit of truth. He once said, "I know you won't believe me, but the highest form of Human Excellence is to question oneself and others." He died for this cause - sentenced to drink the poison Hemlock in 399 BCE.

A fellow Pisces and dreamer. He said, "Imagination is more important than knowledge." His theories of relativity shifted an entire worldview and laid the foundation for quantum physics.

Carl Jung
The founder of pioneering psychological concepts that I hold dear: the archetype, the collective unconscious and synchronicity, he understood the human psyche by exploring art, dreams, mythology, philosophy, alchemy, astrology and religion.

Jim Morrison
Lead singer of The Doors, songwriter, and poet. He died mysteriously at the age of 27, and lived by the Blake quote: "The road of excess leads to the palace of wisdom." The name The Doors came from an Aldous Huxley book, The Doors of Perception, which, in turn, borrowed from more poetry by William Blake: "If the doors of perception were cleansed, every thing would appear to man as it is, infinite."

The Empress I was in a past life
According to a psychic at a restaurant I went to once, I was an Empress in China in a past life. Hmmmm....

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Bailey the Pit Bull

In 2004, the Ontario government introduced legislation to ban ownership of pit bulls in the province. If passed, fines for dangerous dogs that bite or attack would double to $10,000 and allow for jail sentences of up to 6 months!

Individuals who already own pit bulls would have to muzzle and leash them while in public, AND they must be spayed or neutered. As a breed, pit bulls would essentially disappear.

To be honest, I didn't really have an opinion about the legislation. I hadn't given it much thought. I'd just never been exposed to any pit bulls. Of course, like everybody else, I'd read terrifying reports in the news. And these reports were terrifying. Nobody wants to read about a menacing dog chasing down and ripping apart someone else's pet dog or causing broken bones and disfigurement to a young child. Even worse were the reports that a dog in the midst of one of these attacks, could only be stopped by shooting them.

I admit it. I had a healthy fear of the dogs from the news reports alone. Unconsciously, I would skirt a wide path around any unmuzzled dog that looked like a pit bull. It was a very particular form of discrimination, but discrimination nonetheless. At the same time, when I saw a poor, muzzled pit bull, I felt sad. Somehow, it didn't feel fair to me, even if I did feel safer.

This past weekend, I met Bailey the Pit Bull. When my friend Emily had mentioned it earlier in the week, I had dismissed the flutterings of fear as inconsequential. But now, as I walked through the entrance of Lisa's house, I felt a wave of real fear. When Bailey jumped up on me and lunged for my face to lick it, terror washed over me momentarily. Bailey was a massive piece of muscle. There was no denying it. Would he chomp my face with his powerful jaws? Would he grab hold and not let go? I quelled the fear as best I could. This was Lisa's dog, and she would not put me in danger.

Over the course of that weekend, I fell in love with Bailey. He is the colour of Bailey's Irish Cream (hence the name), and has the sweetest, most loving chocolatey brown eyes I have ever seen. When we went outside to kick a ball around, there was nothing but innocence and joy in those eyes of his. When I laid on the bed, he curled up next me, resting his warm, furry head on my legs, and I was lost forever. It isn't fair that a dog like Bailey should have to be muzzled in public. He wouldn't hurt a fly. Like most dogs, he only wants to give and receive unconditional love.

It's true. I wasn't sure how I felt about the ban. Until now. I am totally against it. Without a doubt. There are no bad dogs, only bad owners.

Friday, May 19, 2006


It is with mixed emotions that I move offices today. I'm ready for the change, but sad to be leaving the neighbourhood. It's funny how quickly you get into a routine, a pattern of behaviour. This might seem strange, but I'm most upset about leaving the local Starbucks behind. Those of you who know me, know that I'm a complete Starbucks addict...it probably verges on the unhealthy. I even search them out in foreign countries like Japan and Vienna!! I know, I'm an idiot.

The thing with my particular Starbucks, (and that's how I've come to think of it...as MY Starbucks), is that I've been going every morning for 2.5 years. Most days, I don't even have to open my mouth. This is a good thing, especially before you've had your morning coffee. They call my drink the second they see me. Some days, it's on the bar before I've walked over there. Once they called it wrong by accident, so they gave it to me for free.

Of course I was very sad when I went in this morning, as it was my last Grande Americano with them for awhile. And they were all so sweet. They gave me my coffee for free, told me to come back later for another free drink, and gave me 4 free Starbucks coupons!! It felt like Christmas!! You can see why I love it there.

It was so unexpected, and put a smile on my face for the rest of the day! Have a great weekend everybody!

More Pictures

Well, I'm feeling pretty lazy about writing right about now. Those last few posts really sucked all the brain power out of me. Whew! So, I thought I'd share some more pics from my travels over the last 2 years. You can find the first sets of pictures here and here. Enjoy!

This is in a bed and breakfast in Montreal. My sis took this picture of me doing god knows what. I like it though. It feels like there's a story in this picture somehow.

This sign was part of an outdoor art installation in Vienna. There were signs with different sayings posted all over a park. I liked what this one said. The addition of the googly eyed little face on the bottom of the sign by some vandal was definitely an added bonus.

This is in Vancouver on, what I think is Kitsalano Beach. I'm sure I've totally massacred the spelling of that. Well, it was beautiful in any case. I like how romantic this picture feels, with the sun glinting off the water, and the silhouettes of my friends meandering lazily along the sand.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Opportunity Continued....

Well, I think it's about time to tackle our debate about Opportunity again. I love that you guys had such passionate and reasoned opinions about the subject. With so much information available to us via web, digital television etc...it's more important than ever to have open discussion and debate about uncomfortable topics. We tend to sweep divisive topics under the rug, ignoring them completely, and thus allowing them to remain unchanged. Or we become so inflamed and angry, taking things personally, that any hope of reasoned discourse is lost, along with any hope for real change.

So here goes...

May: I agree with you on some points. Your network of friends and family definitely influences what you choose to do, hence the Indian cabbies, Chinese laundromats, you mentioned. You also said that the theory behind equal opportunity rights, "is that you must be equal in every other aspect related to qualification..." And I agree to some extent. I'm not saying that we should just hand jobs over to people because they are immigrants. I am saying that immigrants are not given equal access to opportunities, even when the qualifications are similar, and that's a sense of entitlement that is owned by our majority. I mean, how many cab drivers speak perfect English? How many are highly educated? A lot of them. Do they have equal access to all the opportunities that someone who was born here does? I don't think so.

Furtheron: I suppose that I have an extremely idealistic view of things. You're right - history does go around and around and around. But aren't we supposed to learn from history? Aren't we supposed to have the wisdom to make courageous choices and change things? Is it a good enough excuse to say that eventually my descendents will be enslaved by the "next world power," and thus I should get mine while I can? At some point, we have to stop these cycles of abuse, power and victim consciousness. And I say that we are evolved enough at this point, that we should start today!

Em: I'm not saying that we should just hand jobs over to people because they are immigrants. They should definitely be qualified for the jobs they are applying for. I'm saying that immigrants have it a lot tougher, even when they are equally qualified. I don't know too many immigrants that go around expecting handouts. Most are extremely hard working, and grateful to have any job at all. They appreciate how good we have it here in Canada. I'm sure I'll be lynched for saying this, but most of the panhandlers on the street in Toronto, are caucasian. In fact, I can't remember the last time I saw a homeless person that was a minority. Why is that? I don't think that you can realistically take away the race card. It's a factor in almost every socioeconomic situation out there. I would love the day that we didn't even have to say things like "race card," cuz then it would mean that we'd really dealt with the issue once and for all.

Of course, you all know from my Political Compass, that I'm basically a Communist, as is Furtheron...hardy har har...Have you guys done it? Em and May, I am curious about what your results would be. I'm betting that you are both further to the right.

Overall, I guess my point is that we need to take care of each other. We're human. And ultimately, I don't like to see people suffering. I don't like it when I see a single mother working 2 jobs. I don't like it when I'm in a restaurant and all the busboys are brown, and all the waiters are white. I don't like it when my cab driver is a professor and can't catch a break because of his accent or the colour of his skin.

Ultimately, we aren't all equal. That's a fact. Some of us are smarter. Some of us are harder working. Some of us have better connections. Some of us don't. I just believe that if you have more, you should give to those who have less. No matter what the reason is. That's just compassion.

Thursday, May 11, 2006


True beauty comes from being committed to something other than yourself.

I read this great quote in a magazine, and thought it really rang true. For instance, Angelina Jolie is physically beautiful...there's no question about that! But I think that what makes her truly beautiful is that she's not completely self-absorbed. I mean it doesn't seem like she cares about what she looks like. Nor does she care if other people find her beautiful. She's stunning because she's committed to something larger than herself. Does she spend all day examining herself in the mirror and making sure that she doesn't have any new wrinkles? Does she compare herself to other women all day long? Does she only see her worth through the eyes of men? Does she focus on these superficial, external things? I don't think so. Why? Because she's too busy focused on things that make her feel good internally. She's too busy making a difference to someone other than herself.

Physical appearance has become ridiculously important in our society. We've become increasingly greedy, self-absorbed and narcissistic. And I think that things are getting out of control. Why does a 15 year old need a $800 LV purse? Why does a 30 year old need Botox? For that matter, why do I need $300 Versace sunglasses?

It's getting harder and harder to keep up with our "culture of cool." Keeping up with the Jones' these days means something a lot different than it did when I was growing up. Back then it was getting a TV and a microwave. Now, it's about owning the right designer jeans, looking as young and beautiful as possible, and getting behind the velvet rope. We're all celebrities, right?!

Of course, I'm as guilty as anyone else. Did I really need those Versace shades? No. Could I really afford them? No. Why did I buy them then? Because I liked them, and if I'm truly honest with myself, because I liked the label too. I liked what the label means. I think my point is that we all need to try to disconnect from these types of external things as much as we can. Granted it's difficult when you're surrounded by want more, need more, must have more messages all the time.

Still. What gives me the greatest pleasure is that which is intrinsic. That which is outside the context of our consumerist culture. Nothing feels better than a sense of accomplishment, be it creative, spiritual or athletic.

Not even putting on a pair of $300 Versace shades.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Weird and Wonderful

Well, I've been feeling a little under the weather, so will reply to all your wonderful arguments on the Opportunity post later on. I think I need as much brain power as possible to tackle that one!

Saturday was a wacky day.

I was roused from deep sleep by the sounds of whistles and drums. It sounded like a full marching band was crossing the street in front of my house. Turns out that it was really only 4 drums and a cymbal, and it was 3 blocks away, but still...

Lemme tell you, drum sound really carries down empty streets. It was only 9:30 on Saturday morning and much too early to be awake! But my curiousity got the better of me. I had to know what the hell this sound was, and why a drumline was marching through the streets of downtown Toronto. I dragged myself out of bed and onto the balcony in my furry slippers, looked down and saw a steady stream of runners passing by. It was the Sporting Life 10K race, complete with drum accompaniment for encouragement! It was an interesting way to start the weekend, to say the least.

Later on that evening, I went for my own run on the waterfront. On my way back, I had to cross under an underpass, and got stopped at the lights. I saw some motion out of the corner of my eye. So I turned and looked across 4 lanes of traffic to the sidewalk on the other side. The guy on the other side, in running gear, paused, looked over, and immediately broke into a breakdancing routine - popping, locking and moonwalking. I couldn't help but laugh and applaud. He gave me a bow, the light turned green, and with that, we were both off and running in opposite directions.

I love little pieces of weirdness like that!

Thursday, May 04, 2006


This is a reply to Furtheron's comment on Caste System below. I started writing a reply, but it got really long and turned into a sorta post, so I figured I'd just make it into one!

Most societies are structured like this. The sad fact is that we build our societies on the backs of people who have less. And it's not just with different races. Rich and powerful women will build their lives on the backs of poorer women, just like restaurants will save their "best" positions for the majority. How many maids do you think are caucasion? How many waiters do you think are black?

I see what you're saying though, and I agree with you to some extent. If we're really honest about it, it's clear that this kind of wide-scale change, would lead to the crumbling of our civilization as we know it. But that doesn't mean we can't look at ways for it to improve. I'm an idealist, and I tend to see the potential/possibility of something - my own rose-coloured view of the world. Besides, I think that dialogue about this stuff is important. Let's think, argue and debate. I mean, how are we supposed to change things, if we can't talk about it?

Essentially, I think it's a question of opportunity. Why should we assume that the immigrant who comes from a poor country is happy to make less money? And is it okay to pay them less because they are happy about it? Shouldn't we all have equal opportunity and access? I mean, how many Arab, Pakistani and Indian professors do you have driving cabs? How many engineers from China are packing boxes? Do you really think that they wouldn't prefer to be making more money, supporting their families, and contributing to society? I don't think that just because they are willing to do those jobs, that it is okay for the majority to just hand the scraps over to them. (Of course, underlying all of that is the question of gratitude in a spiritual sense - but I'm not even gonna go there...) We all lose when this happens. They are weakened and disenfranchised, and we don't get to benefit from their talents, skills and energy.

Some people will argue that minorities and immigrants have equal opportunity here in Canada or the US or in the UK, but really, how are you supposed to create social change when you're working 2 jobs, going to school part-time and trying to put food on the table? Would you be able to do it? It's a basic Maslow's Hierachy of Needs thing. If your physiological and safety needs are not taken care of, how are you going to get anywhere close to self-actualization?

It's difficult for disempowered and marginized people to have a voice. And it's up to us to make sure they are heard.

My IQ - Ani DiFranco

When I was four years old
They tried to test my I.Q.
They showed me a picture of 3 oranges and a pear
They said, which one is different?
It does not belong
They taught me different is wrong

I sing sometimes
Like my life is at stake
Cause you're only as loud
As the noises you make
I'm learning to laugh as hard
As I can listen
Cause silence
Is violence
In women and poor people
If more people were screaming then I could relax
But a good brain ain't diddley
If you don't have the facts

We live in a breakable takeable world
An ever available possible world
And we can make music
Like we can make do

Genius is in a back beat
Backseat to nothing if you're dancing
Especially something stupid
Like I.Q.

For every lie I unlearn
I learn something new
I sing sometimes for the war that I fight
Cause every tool is a weapon -
If you hold it right.

Monday, May 01, 2006

Caste System

Yesterday, I went to the Hothouse Cafe's brunch buffet with my friends, May, Holman and Jackson. I've always enjoyed the brunch there. It's bright and sunny and you have fresh waffles and made-to-order omelettes admidst the sounds of a live jazz band.

I was just through my first satisfying plate of sausages, eggs, bacon and mussels, when I noticed something very unsettling. All of the busboys were brown! Of either Indian or Pakistani descent, I can't say for sure. I can say for sure that all the waiters were white. I ranted to Holman a bit about discrimination, and being the calm Aquarius that he is, he started looking around the restaurant for evidence of this fact.

Holman: See look! There's a white guy in a black shirt. He's a busboy too. They're not all brown.

Me: Where? Are you sure?

Jackson: Um, no. I think he works behind the dessert table.

So unfortunately, I was right. Every single waiter in the restaurant was white and every single busboy was brown. And I'm sure this sort of division plays out across the entire restaurant industry. I'm guessing that there are plenty of short order cooks, dishwashers and busboys that are visible minorities. They are always behind the scenes, cleaning up, cooking, essentially being servants. This discrimination plays out in high end restaurants too...except of course in that situation, you can be 90% sure that your waiter will be a man.

I am constantly amazed by the subtle caste system we have here in Canada, and frankly, I find it very disheartening. Toronto is one of the most multicultural cities in the world, yet this sort of thing still happens. And is in fact, prevalant. And if it can happen here, what is happening in places that are less liberal, less multicultural?? It's a frightening thought.