Wednesday, December 21, 2011

2011.12.21 — Some fushigi* — Shameless, Cabinetry and Philip K. Dick's Stigmata and Adjustment

Each of the *fushigi in this blog began so small that I didn't blog them at the time of their occurrence. Rather, I noted them with pen and paper and waited to see if enough small one's warranted an amalgamated blog. And, after the third one linked to an event today, here they are.

The first one began on the morning of December 12. I was doing something I have never done before, nor ever really expected to do. (And hope not to do again.) My wife decided she wanted to have some cabinets installed in our laundry room. She's only recently begun to web surf and so after a struggle to find cabinetry places on the web using Google she asked me to see what I could find.
So there I was, Googling for cabinets instead of doing the morning chores I had been earlier assigned to do. This search turned out to be an oddly difficult web quest and relatively boring. And it took far far longer than I'd wanted and put my start to the day behind.

That evening I experienced the smallest of small fushigis after I turned on the TV to watch something that had yet to start. I flipped around the stations to kill the few minutes and stumbled into an episode of the Showtime series (being broadcast on HBO-Canada)
Shameless. This show had been suggested to me by BY, one of the TV-watchers at work when it started in January this year. Thus I came to pause on it to give it a quick look. The episode was about halfway through when I began to watch and saw almost immediately the character Frank Gallagher, played by William H. Macy, working at a
cabinet manufacturing plant. Serious? When was the last time you saw someone on TV working in a cabinet manufacturing factory?

The next one started five days later, when I wrote some Haiku-like things as part of a Haiku game-chain in the WSSCC group in the Goodreads word lovers' social networking site. This is what I wrote as my continuation of M's theme about how a gravesite became a hangout for drunks and harlots. (M's pair of Haiku have an extremely clever play on words.) On the 17th I wrote the following doggerel:
A harlot, one day,
saw fresh blood on the grave stone
seeping from two cracks.

She screamed in delight
for she knew this smoker's grave
was now stigmata

and that unlike pee
would de-stigmatize their squat
to bring Facebook fame.

She took a picture
of the miracle in stone.
So a Saint was made.
The Stigmatization of St. Francis
Certainly not great poetry! But fun. I have no idea why 'stigmata' came into my head for this, but once there I wanted to play with it.

Today I visited Renaissance Books and was greeted by J with a big smile.

'I have a Christmas surprise for you,' he said to me. 'Follow me.'

He led me into the basement and then into a 'staff only' section. He reached up to the top shelf and voilà, there were Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman's two volume The Political Economy of Human Rights. This was very exciting to me, as my Chomsky collection is now big enough that stumbling into new-to-me-books by him is getting harder and harder to do. Well, this find completed my set, as I already had volume I but not volume II.

But that isn't the fushigi, but is what lead to it. On top of the book shelf, just to the left of the Chomsky volumes, were three Sci-Fi paperbacks by Philip K. Dick. What first struck me funny about that is that I had watched a movie two days ago, more or less by accident, called The Adjustment Bureau with Matt Damon and Emily Blunt. It is an adaptation of the Dick short story The Adjustment Team that I was not familiar with so that when I turned it on I had no idea what the movie was
about beyond the cryptic cable TV description. It wasn't until the closing credits that I saw it having been inspired by the Dick story and had that feeling of 'Of course that was! It felt like a PKD story!'

So, that, and the fact that as a teen I loved PKD, made these books stand out, initially. Well, because of the movie and my misspent youth, I asked J if I could look at these. He commented that PKD was becoming really popular lately, again, and that he had set these aside to take them upstairs. 'These are PBOs,' he said. 'Paperback originals, and so are quite expensive.' They looked like old acid paper degraded paperbacks to me, but he commented that they were worth about twenty to thirty dollars each.
But the one that stood out to me, and which I was willing to buy, was The 3
Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.

What a convoluted fushigi! J commented that he thought he had a non-PBO copy of Stigmata, which it turns out he did. So I bought it.

And now I will toss in for bad measure two of the oddest of the odd things. I am quite sure they do not even qualify as near fushigi, but I'll throw them in anyway. Well, the first is an obvious one, but was the last thing that came to mind. And that is that the concept of 'The Adjustment Bureau' provides an explanation for the existence of fushigi! (The mind is a funny thing that I didn't even think of that while watching the movie!)

And the second one also relates to some doggerel I wrote, called 'Rock Sun Paint,' for a photographic poetry prompt-blog called Houseboat—photo #5. (I was invited to join this blog via one of the Goodreads groups with which I am a member.) The poems that were created by the other participants are excellent! I highly recommend this blog if you enjoy poetry and photography. Anyway, here's what I wrote:
Rock Sun Paint

I can see the stone walls are old,
despite efforts to paint them
with the saturated youthfulness
of blue, white and ochre.

In the blink of an eye
nature will chip this façade.
The kiss of colour will be etched away
under the brutal barrage
of the sun's stone-cracking light,
which reveals itself in harsh shadows
and the brilliance of blue,
white and ochre.

Faded stone cobbles
wind through doorways and spaces,
unpainted, unmasked, tired.
Their purpose is obscured
by an inevitability denied
by the foolish who walk
this path with bared heads,
as if doing so could mock
as myth the diurnal sun.

I tap my watch, what time is it?
The battery is dead, is what I think.
I cannot know the truth,
that its silica-inspired movement,
abashed by this painted timelessness,
simply stopped, unmasked
by blue, white and ochre.
Before this poem made it to publication it went through a vigorous critique/revision process, during which one of the members wondered at what I meant by 'with bared heads.' I explained "As to 'bared' head … it is [a] metaphor for thinking the head (mind) has the power to ignore nature's energy." Well, in a kind of fushigi irony, the 'adjustment agents' (aka angels) of 'The Adjustment Bureau' require hats in order to allow them access to warping space/time and allow them to move god-like through the world. I find that reversal brings a smile to my face.


Addendum
After posting this — and I mean immediately after posting this, I turned away from the computer to watch some TV. The movie station was running a movie called Shelter with Julianne Moore. No sooner had I sat down than a man, with multiple-personalities, I think, is being questioned about a male body found in his home that had had a stylized cross cut into his back. Stigmata, of sorts?


Addendum #2
Okay, life is TOO strange. On another TV-station tonight, Showcase, the movie Minority Report with Tom Cruise is being broadcast. 'Minority Report' is, of course, a movie adaptation of the PKD short story The Minority Report.

Friday, December 16, 2011

2011.12.16 — Kristy-Anne (Kris) Boyd: May 21, 1964 - December 3, 2011

The world is a strange place.
Wednesday morning came, as Wednesday's always do. I wake bleary in head and eye, but once I was mobile my wife commented that Kris's service was this afternoon, and so I needed to get my ass in gear. So I sped around doing unexpected morning shopping chores, but while doing them it came to me, unbidden and unexpectedly, that I needed to speak at Kris's celebration of life service. I hadn't seen her in a couple of years, and knew her only through my frequenting the small corner / specialty store at which she had until recently worked Saturday mornings, the day of my weekly shopping chores.

I wrote:
Hello:

I am here as a proof that our lives are bound to public strangers. If I hadn't talked to Kris — and as a retail customer that was certainly my prerogative — we would have remained strangers to each other. And my life would have been diminished. Diminished by her laughter and intelligent wit.

Kris was a big presence during my Saturday morning chores. We talked about nothing important — just food and family, their and our foibles, functions, fun.

This morning, after I woke enough to consider my day, my presence here as a stranger to almost all of you, a poem kept demanding to be heard. Now, Kris and I never talked poetry — who does? In fact, I can hear her laughing at the thought of it now. But for reasons inexplicable to me, I would like to read a poem.

A Ritual We Read to Each Other

If you don't know the kind of person I am
and I don't know the kind of person you are
a pattern that other made may prevail in the world
and following the wrong god home we may miss our star.

For there is many a small betrayal in the mind,
a shrug, that lets the fragile sequence break
sending with shouts the horrible errors of childhood
storming out to play through the broken dyke.

And as elephants parade holding each elephant's tail,
but if one wanders the circus won't find the park,
I call it cruel and maybe the root of all cruelty
to know what occurs but not recognize the fact.

And so I appeal to a voice, to something shadowy,
a remote important region in all who talk:
though we could fool each other, we should consider —
lest the parade of our mutual life gets lost in the dark.

For it is important that awake people be awake,
or a breaking line may discourage them back to sleep;
the signals we give — yes or no, or maybe —
should be clear: the darkness around us is deep.
William Stafford. From A Ritual We Read to Each Other, in Stories That Could Be True. New York: Harper and Row, 1977.
When it came time for me to read, I extemporized a bit outside the text, but read the poem. I felt my voice trembling as I spoke, and my eyes began to tear.

The venue is officially described as 'Grand Baby Ballroom at the Columbia Theatre', but this is a converted theatre from the 1930s that is now home to the local LaffLines Comedy Club. And that is just about as perfect for Kris as can be, because she loved to laugh and she was a real prankster.

Her best friend, whom I'd never met, described how Kris had managed to convince her to go into the back corner of the house one party night in order to pee. Kris had made a bet with the other guests, before she had got there, about who would be able to get her to pee in the yard first. "I won, I won!" Kris bellowed into the night as her best friend was squatting with her pants around her ankles.

And also in line with the prankster nature, the ceremony was filled with little glitches: was to begin at 2pm, but after a short introduction, nothing happened. Eventually (3:15) we were told that we were waiting for Kris's father, and to help ourselves to the food. As soon as people were milling around, the father arrived. Then when the photograph display was to go, the computer wouldn't go (even though the earlier test run was successful) and the PC had to be rebooted. Then, as the photos were running, the machine froze, and had to be restarted again.

Now, for the strangest thing of all. After I got home and supper was done with, I sat down to write something. I visited Goodreads WSSCC Haiku thread. M had with typical humour and skill created a pair of Haiku poems that ended with a girlfriend being directed to the narrator's grave in the smoking section of the graveyard. So I proceeded to create a response. At 7:59pm I posted:
Sorry M and Al, but nothing but doggerel came out this time, try as I might. (I wonder if I can blame the glass of chardonnay I had last night?)

If she found the spot
she would puff her cigarette,
hike up her short skirt.

Then inhale once more
before gracefully squatting
to pee on my grave.

While I was alive
I thought I was a gals' guy.
Not so, says the grass.
While writing this I did not make even the smallest tiniest connection between the story of Kris's pee pranking her best friend and my writing the above. It was only late last night, as I was contemplating how I wanted to put this blog together, that I saw their link. Isn't that just weird? The mind and the unconscious are truly magical things.

Kris, be well, Your brightness will be missed here. But I am sure your new world is being made brighter with your energy, in whatever form that takes.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

2011.11.07 — Pansophy is a fushigi*



Around noon today I left my work pod to visit with TR and BH at each of theirs. I went to ask TR how he found the Vancouver music group Brasstronauts that I'd suggested to him yesterday.
Brasstronauts
I suggested it to him because he enjoys eclectic music.
(To give Brasstronaut a try, listen @ the sidebar's 'A Taste of Notes Mostly Musical'.) He gave them a solid thumbs up.

Well, sadly, I also went to talk work. Specifically about whether or not he'd used a "Trimble" — specifically, a geo-positioning tool manufactured by Trimble. Earlier in the morning I came to require this tool — something that I thought I wouldn't likely need when I learned of its existence in our department and what to use it for from the new man RL two weeks ago. Once I learned of it, I directed TR to use it for a requirement he'd come to me for help a few weeks earlier, before I knew of its existence. I had hoped that he'd used it and so could teach me.

Alas, he hadn't yet. He explained that, even though he was a surveyor in the department's past, the knowledge and use of surveying tools had been kept restricted to a few special people. He and I both observed that delimiting knowledge was both a peculiar thing to do, and societally counterproductive in the long run. That is why, I told him, that I teach everything I know to anyone willing to learn. I elaborated by telling him that I'd recently made arrangement to give a seminar to real estate agents on the physics and politics of relocating telecommunication's structure.

BORING like all fushigi.

Tonight, after supper, I visited my Goodreads notifications, and visited a thread in one of the groups with which I am a member. One of the writers posted a poem earlier in the day ~3:00 this afternoon. The objective in the poem thread was to write very freely, to give the imagination full expression. Some of the contributions are breathtaking, and all are at least excellent. (Except, most likely mine, which seems now barely adequate against what the others have written. Sigh! Okay, enough whining.) The last contributor, Rose, allowed free reign to her vocabulary. I LOVE words, and have an excellent vocabulary, but there I was looking up word after word: bobbery, appetence, [same root as 'appetite'!], fascicle, quean, opuscules and, most fushigi-ish
pansophy, which is, to quote the Wikipedia citing the 17th century philosopher, Comenius, "that everything must be taught to everyone, as a guiding basis for education, something like universal education (Characteristica universals)". Until this afternoon I didn't know that word, or principle existed, but on the day I talk about it being a driving energy in my life, Rose kindly supplies me with the word for it. Here's the poem:
Where goes your glorious bobbery
without much of the appetence
of yesteryear? Pangerize the poltroon
for all your worth, but knavery
knows no mitigation and the fascicle of
false judges do the quean in their
pansophy, singing in opuscules of minor
notes and the quality of her strange
metempirical enriched the simplest
expression of their simplest thoughts.
Rose Mary Boehm
Okay, that is at least a little amusing. What adds the smallest, and I mean smallest of spices to this is that this morning, when I wandered past his desk, DP grabbed me to look at something in a book that JB had showed him. It was a citation from Machiavelli, the 16th century philosopher.
...if one holds his state on the basis of mercenary arms, he will never be firm or secure; because they are disunited, ambitious, without discipline, unfaithful; gallant among friends, vile among enemies; no fear of God, no faith with men; and one defers ruin insofar as one defers the attack; and in peace you are despoiled by them, in war by the enemy…. The mercenary captains are either capable men or they are not; if they are, you cannot trust them, because they always aspire to their own greatness, either by oppressing you, who are their master, or others contrary to your intentions; but if the captain is not skilful, you are ruined in the usual way (The Prince p45-46, Chapter 12 ).
DP showed this to me because the practice of using mercenaries (aka contractors) to replace full time workers has been recognized by everyone but our leaders as an exercise in destroying the organization. DP showed this to me because we've discussed many times this problem, and so he was delighted to see a respected philosopher agreeing with us, and further affirming our opinion of our senior executives.

This I found fushigi-ish because twice in one day I get very specific references to long dead philosophers from disparate sources to different purposes. That kind of thing never happens. When was the last time a co-worker cited Machiavelli to you? Have you ever even heard of either pansophy or Comenius?

And a final odd thing for the day. This morning, while putting my lunch together, I chose not to bring with me to work a piece of the date (matrimony) square that I'd made on Sunday. My wife, concerned for my being properly fed, expressed consternation at my not bringing it in. I felt like having yoghurt and nuts with fruit for breakfast at work instead. Well, I guess the universe had other plans, because my co-worker CH chose today to bring in baked goods. This CH has done before, but very infrequently. And what did CH bring in? Matrimony squares! (EXCELLENT ones, btw!) CH commented that the last time she baked them was about two years ago.

So, small, but very curious.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

2011.11.18 — Godot, Ballet, Pocket Watch & Alice — tiny fushigi*

This is a blog of three small fushigi TV guilty pleasures intermingled with a couple of other trivialities, Alice's Rabbit in Wonderland and the Beckett play Waiting for Godot. [Addendum: it began small but I found my self compelled to blow it up all out of proportion.]

The impetus to post began with guilty pleasure #1 from Sunday, November 13th. At 6pm I went to my office/den and turned on Lost Girl episode Death Didn't Become Him. The story line involved rescuing a ballet dancer who had been resurrected from the dead by the ancient evil Lich. My wife prefers to watch the evening news and so turned that on. This usually means I get to hear it too because she turns it up to compensate for her having slightly diminished hearing. Well, as I was watching a dead male ballet dancer dance I heard on the news a story about the National Ballet of Canada having held auditions in Calgary. The applicant they interviewed was also male.
Amusing but very small and so I did nothing but chuckle at my 'getting' and/or noticing these weird fushigi things. And for being fascinated by them.

Thursday night's second guilty pleasure sets the seed of the next fushigi nudge. I started watching Warehouse 13 in the summer when I stumbled into it while flipping. Something about the playfulness of the acting and writing caught my ear and eye so I hung around only to discover another distraction from life.

[Before reading on, click on the link to initiate some great music from that episode: Running Up That Hill covered by Placebo. It will open in a new window/tab.]

So. Guilty pleasure #2: on Thursday, November 17th I turned the TV to watch the 3rd season finale of Warehouse 13. The Stand ends with the Warehouse being destroyed and the fascinating H.(Helena) G. Wells (played by Jaime Murray) sacrificing her life to save her fellow agents.
All looks lost until Agent Artie (played by Saul Rubinek) pulls from his jacket pocket a pocket watch. What can this artifact do? Reset time and undo death and destruction? Stay tuned!

Nothing special. Just me wasting my life watching other people enjoy their creativity instead of creating my own. Hmmmm. But how is that different than a great deal of the books I've read?

And, speaking of books, the next morning I re-opened Samuel Beckett's brilliant play Waiting for Godot, which I'd picked up Tuesday, November 15th for some light reading before returning to Naomi Klein's Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism
and Noam Chomsky's Year 501: The Conquest Continues.

No sooner did I begin to read than I read the following:
POZZO: … [Turning to Vladimir and Estragon.] Thank you, gentlemen, and let me . . . [he fumbles in his pockets] . . . let me wish you . . . [fumbles] . . . wish you . . . [fumbles] . . . what have I done with my watch? [Fumbles.] A genuine half-hunter, gentlemen, with deadbeat escapement! [Sobbing.] Twas my granpa gave it to me! [He searches on the ground, Vladimir and Estragon likewise. Pozzo turns over with his foot the remains of Lucky's hat.] Well now isn't that just—

VLADIMIR: Perhaps it's in your fob.

POZZO: Wait! [He doubles up in an attempt to apply his ear to his stomach, listens. Silence.] I hear nothing. [He beckons them to approach, Vladimir and Estragon go over to him, bend over his stomach.] Surely one should hear the tick-tick.

VLADIMIR: Silence! [All listen, bent double.]

ESTRAGON: I hear something.

POZZO: Where?

VLADIMIR: It's the heart.

POZZO: [disappointed] Damnation!

VLADIMIR: Silence!

ESTRAGON: Perhaps it has stopped.
(WfG Evergreen 1954, p.31)
That is too funny! On TV there is the hope that the stopped pocket watch can turn back time and restore life. In the play there is the lost pocket watch that is cleverly equated to a heart being stopped, death.

So that is when I felt I would blog another stupid fushigi. But before I could get to it life got into the way. Life and work. At the Wednesday (November 16th) department meeting we were told that a paper-based procedure was going to go 'on-line' via MS-Outlook e.mail. After some discussion I mentioned using Outlook's pre-formulated e.mail capability because I had built an e.mail template several years prior. No one understood what I was talking about. So on Friday I went to find that old MS-Outlook template to show my manager. Before showing it to him I opened it and smiled at what I'd forgotten I'd included. And I thought 'I bet RT would like that closing signature quip!'

And as I'm thinking that, at almost exactly that moment, RT walked into my work pod bearing gifts. RT had been tasked with the job of distributing company image employer propaganda tokens, which I do not remember RT having done before in our 10 years of working in the same department.
Specifically a pen and a pad with a corporatized feel-good phrase.

Before RT can move on to the next recipient I asked her to read the test e.mail's closing quip:
Be what you would seem to be — or if you'd like it put more simply — Never imagine yourself not to be otherwise than what it might appear to others that what you were or might have been was not otherwise than what you had been would have appeared to them to be otherwise.
The Duchess to Alice. Alice's Adventures in Wonderland.
RT read it and said, 'That's one of my favourites. I've memorized it. I love it.'

'You have?' I asked.

'Yes,' RT answered.

RT then suggested that that is a nice little bloggable fushigi — RT reads my blog and is familiar with fushigi. And I knew I would because it was small and trivial enough to fit into this planned blog of small fushigi.

Now, as I'm writing out it, I wonder if RT was suggesting the fushigi not just because I asked her to read an obscure text that she just happened to have memorized, but because the feel good phrase in some ways embodies the irony of the quotation!

But today, as I continued writing out this blog, it suddenly struck me that there is an additional fushigi link between Warehouse13's closing and RT's rabbit fushigi. The pocket watch! Synopsis from Wikipedia:
Chapter 1 – Down the Rabbit Hole: Alice is bored sitting on the riverbank with her sister, when she notices a talking, clothed White Rabbit with a pocket watch run past.
But does it mean anything? And doesn't it make you — let me rephrase. With this latest twist I have to wonder if there is some kind of connection between Guilty Pleasure #1 and a time piece. And as I was thinking about that, out popped guilty pleasure fushigi #3. My Friday night guilty pleasure is Nikita.

In Friday's episode, Fair Trade the secondary plot line of Alexandra Udinov, played by Lndsy Fonseca, evolved. It included her getting from a kind of double agent her assassinated father's watch — a wrist watch — for good luck. Of course the double agent has bugged it with a tracking radio beacon.

And now it has also struck me that there is a curious, tenuous, connection between Godot and guilty pleasure #1, Lost Girl: the Godot protagonists Vladimir and Estragon feel that their lives are empty, that they are going through the motions and that they are effectively dead. They discuss killing themselves. Well, the resurrected dead in Lost Girl: Death Didn't Become Him also feel lost and tortured because they are going through the motions of life while being dead.

Odd, now that I've thought that, I realize also that that tenuous link can be extended to include Pozzo and Lucky in Godot: Pozzo keeps Lucky on a rope and uses his voice and whip to give Lucky the semblance of life. At one point he is put on display and forced to perform as if he were human.
This is exactly what happens in Lost Girl, when the the Lich forces the resurrected dead he's collected to perform in a kind of semblance of life that is for them torture. From Godot:


POZZO: Answer us that.

VLADIMIR: In order to dance.

ESTRAGON: True!

POZZO: True!Silence. They put on their hats.

ESTRAGON: Nothing happens, nobody comes, nobody goes, it's awful!

VLADIMIR: (to Pozzo). Tell him to think.

POZZO: Give him his hat.

VLADIMIR: His hat?

POZZO: He can't think without his hat.

VLADIMIR: (to Estragon). Give him his hat.

ESTRAGON: Me! After what he did to me! Never!

VLADIMIR: I'll give it to him. He does not move.

ESTRAGON: (to Pozzo). Tell him to go and fetch it.

POZZO: It's better to give it to him.

VLADIMIR: I'll give it to him. He picks up the hat and tenders it at arm's length to Lucky, who does not move.

POZZO: You must put it on his head.

ESTRAGON: (to Pozzo). Tell him to take it.

POZZO: It's better to put it on his head.

VLADIMIR: I'll put it on his head. (He goes round behind Lucky, approaches him cautiously, puts the hat on his head and recoils smartly. Lucky does not move. Silence.)

ESTRAGON: What's he waiting for?

POZZO: Stand back! (Vladimir and Estragon move away from Lucky. Pozzo jerks the rope. Lucky looks at Pozzo.) Think, pig! (Pause. Lucky begins to dance.) Stop! (Lucky stops.) Forward! (Lucky advances.) Stop! (Lucky stops.) Think!

(Silence.)

LUCKY: On the other hand with regard to—

POZZO: Stop! (Lucky stops.) Back! (Lucky moves back.) Stop! (Lucky stops.) Turn! (Lucky turns towards auditorium.) Think!

During Lucky's tirade the others react as follows.
1) Vladimir and Estragon all attention, Pozzo dejected and disgusted.
2)Vladimir and Estragon begin to protest, Pozzo's sufferings increase.
3)Vladimir and Estragon attentive again, Pozzo more and more agitated and groaning.
4) Vladimir and Estragon protest violently. Pozzo jumps up, pulls on the rope. General outcry. Lucky pulls on the rope, staggers, shouts his text. All three throw themselves on Lucky who struggles and shouts his text.


LUCKY: Given the existence as uttered forth in the public works of Puncher and Wattmann of a personal God quaquaquaqua with white beard quaquaquaqua outside time without extension who from the heights of divine apathia divine athambia divine aphasia loves us dearly with some exceptions for reasons unknown but time will tell and suffers like the divine Miranda with those who for reasons unknown but time will tell are plunged in torment plunged in fire whose fire flames if that continues and who can doubt it will fire the firmament that is to say blast hell to heaven so blue still and calm so calm with a calm which even though intermittent is better than nothing but not so fast and considering what is more that as a result of the labors left unfinished crowned by the Acacacacademy of Anthropopopometry of Essy-in-Possy of Testew and Cunard it is established beyond all doubt all other doubt than that which clings to the labors of men that as a result of the labors unfinished of Testew and Cunnard it is established as hereinafter but not so fast for reasons unknown that as a result of the public works of Puncher and Wattmann it is established beyond all doubt that in view of the labors of Fartov and Belcher left unfinished for reasons unknown of Testew and Cunard left unfinished it is established what many deny that man in Possy of Testew and Cunard that man in Essy that man in short that man in brief in spite of the strides of alimentation and defecation wastes and pines wastes and pines and concurrently simultaneously what is more for reasons unknown in spite of the strides of physical culture the practice of sports such as tennis football running cycling swimming flying floating riding gliding conating camogie skating tennis of all kinds dying flying sports of all sorts autumn summer winter winter tennis of all kinds hockey of all sorts penicillin and succedanea in a word I resume flying gliding golf over nine and eighteen holes tennis of all sorts in a word for reasons unknown in Feckham Peckham Fulham Clapham namely concurrently simultaneously... (p28-30).
Sigh! Is this torture never going to end? Am I going to continue to be compelled to find meaningless interweavings of meaninglessnesses?

Did you notice that in the Godot image Pozzo is holding both a rope and a whip. The image shows Lucky with the whip clenched in his teeth. Well, back to Warehouse 13. Hopefully the last — $%#&* I just made another connection! Oi vey! Okay, Warehouse 13, season 3 finale: the artifact that the evil Sykes uses to bend the agents to his will is Cecil B. DeMille's riding crop, which is a cropped whip. (In the image it is the stick-like thing being bent in his hands.) Now, isn't that just too weird?

Now for the final interweave. In Nikita, Nikita (played by Maggie Q) is forced to give up the precious black box because her friend and collaborator the geek/nerd Birkoff (played by Aaron Stanford) has been captured and is being tortured.

The End. (Or not.)

Sunday, November 6, 2011

2011.11.02 — The Cat & the Camel - Fushigi*

Well, this is an odd fushigi blog, and may not even properly be one. But it amused me enough to write it out. So, right or wrong, one of the two beginnings began with my flipping to CNN's latest celebrity driven news show, Erin Burnett OutFront.
I flipped to it after it had already begun as a diversion from advertising boredom on the show I was watching and out of curiosity about how this 'new' show would approach the news. (Unfortunately it is old CNN because it suffers from CNN's typical surplus of high energy concision that delimits discussion and argument.)

Anyway, in a kind of amusing warning against my watching it, I managed to catch a 'fluff' piece on camel racing. (I just checked her CNN-blog link, above and it wasn't listed in the news items there.)
However you can see her and camels via her Facebook page.

As a fluff piece, it was quite elaborate, with a caricature of the Seabiscuit movie trailer complete with Burnett leading a camel to the race track. Silly, who cares — and it didn't really convince me that the show is likely to be worth watching. [Although I stumbled into something interesting when I poked around on the web for it. I found an earlier piece by Burnett on Australia's camel population problem — a problem the authorities want to help solve by killing 6,000 of them.]

Later that night — 10:30ish or so — as I was shutting down the computer I took off my headphones and heard my wife's Wives of New York screaming about riding camels.

Completely trivial, but completely weird.

What perhaps makes the entire day of near fushigis more completely amusing is how cats did something similar as camels on that same day.

Earlier that evening, as part of a Haiku game in Goodreads, I wound up writing two cat related poems.
Because of the cats
so I've heard; they primp and preen
before they are seen.
           Nov 01, 2011 05:17pm

The jellicle cat
sat. But with a butt he left
to flip, flop and fly.
           Nov 01, 2011 07:56pm

Nothing special here — and not particularly good Haiku, but amusing in the context of the poetical conceit they are following in the game (but not shown here). Later that evening when I re-commenced reading The Sea by John Banville the first paragraph in there was a cat reference.
When I came back to the computer with the book, I was annoyed at myself for not having marked the page. So I began flipping to find it. Then I started to laugh because iTunes, which was moving through my three Laurie Anderson CD's, filled my ears with the lyrics of 'Beautiful Pea Green Boat' from her album Bright Read:

The owl and the pussycat went to sea
In a beautiful pea green boat.
They took some honey and lots of money
Wrapped in a five pound note.
The owl looked up to the stars above
And sang to a small guitar.
O lovely pussy! pussy my love!
What a wonderful pussy you are.
Shortly thereafter I found the passage:
…All creatures have their habits. Now from the other side of the garden a neighbour's piebald cat comes creeping, soft-stepping pard (p32).
Now, if I wanted to be totally obnoxious, I could stretch back and add that I recently (October 25th) updated for the Goodreads Short Story Group an old cat story called Bar Cat.

Oh! If I want to extend the fushigi obnoxiousness to the max, I could add that on November 1st I began to write my blog-book review of Ondaatje's The Cat's Table, which I am 'supposed' to be writing and finishing now, instead of poking around in stupid near fushigi-like things.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

2011.10.19 — A Drift of Haiku


It has been a while since I've posted any Haiku here, even though I've been participating in a Haiku game from Goodreads, and decided to post some of the one's I've written for it.

The fun part of the game it so link your poem with the previous one. I of course am frequently unable to resist the temptation to create a bit of a tongue in cheek poem. So, given that and that they were written over the course of almost three weeks, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the one's I decided were worthy of blogging formed, loosely and after a bit of re-organization, a kind of story,

So, extracts from the Goodreads Weekly Short Stories Contest and Company! group's Haiku Game.

Her skin was the milk
of the gibbous moon caressed
by a kitten's tongue.

I am full of want
And want for nothing but you
in Barcelona.

Red-eyed night reading
forgettable prose alone
on a plane from Rome.

She had me in the chair.
I didn't know that her name
wasn't Chastity.

The strand of her hair
was coiled stark red in the dawn's
new bar of white soap.

When I left childhood
I parted my hair sideways
to wash out regrets.

The cat in the hat
licked her lips, combed her whiskers
and smiled his sad smile.

The morning talker
Forgot to remember that
unsaid words are best.

The moon surprised me
it was full behind dark clouds
where I was empty.

Who am I to be?
The tree stood as quiet as grace
One hundred feet tall.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

2011.10.15 — The Paris Fushigi* — Small & Trivial


Yesterday [the 14th] I spent some of my allotted time of life wresting with whether or not to blog the tiniest, most trivial of fushigis I've experienced. You would think that this kind of thing would be an easy decision to make, given the time constraints of a busy life, etc: yes or no, piss or get off the can. But I dislike passing them by because I think that the act of registering them as a kind of living scientific experiment. And I think recording them is important because that act validates their existence in my experience of life. And in all likelihood attending them quite likely encourages them or, at the very least, teaches me to notice them, even when they are as subtle as this one. But it was so small.

That wrestling has now become a part of the fushigi because of what happened the next morning while I was driving around doing the Saturday morning chores. [And when continued my writing of this on Monday I was listening to Zoë Keating on YouTube and up popped another tiny little fushigi oddity; and then another one after that.]

I'll begin with the introduction. It began in the form of a Haiku — actually, a pair of Haikus that were written as a part of a Haiku-chain game that for no obvious reason on October 14th devolved into:
My sister’s poodle
is so purebred that he barks
in Parisian French.
Oct 14, 2011 01:14pm by M.
Followed by:
Ah, Paris the place
for lovers, dreamers and art,
but so expensive!
Oct 14, 2011 03:19pm by AMF.
What triggered my itch to blog was when I got around to reading the October 14th e.mail Q sent in response to the October 13th e.mail I sent in which I ask Q about Chris Hedges. I asked Q this because we have previously discussed Chomsky and the issues of media mis-information.
And since I'd only discovered Hedges the previous week (thank you RT for linking me to Inverted Totalitarianism), I thought I'd pay RT's favour forward to Q.
date: 14 October 2011 09:50
subject: Message from Q: re: Chris Hedges
In the rather long e.mail Q writes about the difficulties of getting to web-based information in China, and resorting to books. At some point, out of the blue except as a point of interest in trying to acquire books, Q adds:
This week I'm on a business trip in Paris, for a short training on my work. [My emphasis.]
See, completely small and utterly trivial and most certainly meaningless and about as un-scientific as it is possible to get.

That was Friday.

Saturday rolled around, as it is want to do, and when I returned to my car after doing mall chore stuff I found that CBCR2 was playing an aria I didn't particularly like by someone I didn't recognize and didn't like. I changed to CBCR1, which is something that I have done extremely rarely, perhaps 4 or 5 times this year: talk radio is frequently painful for me to listen to, although RT, again, recently opened my ears to its possibility by linking me to Beauty Will Save the World. (It is an interesting discussion about beauty prompted by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn's Nobel Speech Beauty Will Save the World. AS credits Fyodor Dostoyevsky with the puzzling statement.)

Anyway, I turned to CBCR2 and stumbled into a radio show called This is That. The host finished talking about I forget what and then introduced a story about the, as it turns out, world famous Nanaimo Bar. (In fact, as a joke I checked to see if it is famous enough to warrant a Wikipedia page. Yup. And I may have to correct
it's first paragraph, because the lowly Nanaimo Bar is apparently popular across Europe now, too, and not just North America. Oh: I live about 3 hours from Nanaimo, and have been to the small Vancouver Island city many times. Oddly enough I don't think I have actually eaten a Nanaimo bar there, despite them being a favourite I've been eating since the age of five(?) and have made on many occasions.)

Where was I? Oh! Well, it turns out that the city of Campbell River, which is to the north of Nanaimo, has a resident who has taken it upon herself to bump the highly overrated dessert off the world stage with a dessert of her own. The straw that broke the dessert back of Sherri Hickey and put her into fighting mode was when, on a European vacation, a waiter in a good Paris café offered her a delicious Nanaimo Bar.

And so it was that I came to start this Paris fushigi blog late Saturday afternoon. But later that afternoon I left for poker with the guys — which went late! And so I didn't get the blog done. Sunday was also busy, and so I returned to the blog on Monday.

Monday.

I decided to listen to Zoë Keating via YouTube while I was writing. I flipped back to YouTube whenever a song came to end, then picked from the quasi-randomized music clips. I was very surprised to see in the pick-list Zoë Keating, "Lost" @ La Boule Noire, Paris 10.23.08.

So I noted that little fushig and continued to compile my blog's elements — the various links and photos. And I also continued to listen to Keating.

But as I was doing so, it began to appear that my ISP was beginning to fail. Despite that I went to a Keating video with the title Don't Worry. But the video didn't load properly and my browser became locked. Before closing it and trying to confirm whether or not it was the internet that was broken or my pc, I read:
i like how it says paris hilton out of jail
mcxironcresentx 1 week ago [October 11th]
This was so odd to me, that I took a screen clip of it.

With my web function broken I yet again didn't get the blog done.

Tuesday [today].

Before I sat down to write this evening I finished cleaning up after supper and then watched some of the Republican debate — for my first time, ever! [However, the hypocrisy and misdirections that the various wannabes spouted was laughable. For example, the danger of Iran having nuclear weapons was raised to justify defence spending, even as the spending on foreign aid was justified with the example sited of using Pakistan as a country that allows the US to move troops. Pakistan is extremely unstable, religiously and politically, and has nuclear weapons and is quite likely the 2nd biggest nuclear threat in the world behind the USA.]

Anyway, I got tired of the lies and misdirections. TV was so bad that I wound up flipping to watch the end of the new Sarah Michelle Geller show (Ringer Episode 6) to see how it was before settling down to write. (Yup, I was procrastinating!) The show seemed confused and not particularly well written. But the final scene was of the character's 'ringer' setting up, or confirming, some evil plan from a cell phone in, yup, Paris.



Wednesday.

2011.10.19 6:54am — Addendum
I got in the car this morning to drive to work. CBCR2 was playing something I didn't like, so I flipped the station to my second-choice station, Shore 104 FM in Vancouver. I hear the very end of a song, and then:
Sundown in the Paris of the prairies
Wheat Kings have all their treasures buried
All you hear are the rusty breezes
Pushing around the weather vane Jesus.
This is from the song Wheat Kings by The Tragically Hip.
From Shore, here's the play listing: 6:17 AM "WHEAT KINGS" - THE TRAGICALLY HIP.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

2011.10.04 — Imperfect Short Story and Wayne Dyer small fushigi*


Yesterday I completed and posted a short story for the Goodreads group of which I am a member. It is a weekly competition and I've been a member of it since Feb 2011, and this was my first short story posted. (I have posted in the poetry thread in this group too, quite often.)

For some reason the topic, 'Imperfect,' appealed to me, and I wrote the following:
Imperfect — A Story


It began with a story. But of course that is not unique or even interesting, because doesn't everything begin with story? I would like to think that mine is at least unusual. But doesn't everyone?

Where was I? Right… It began with a story. Well, actually, for the story to be, something had to be, or at least have been before that, and so maybe that is where I'd best begin — before the beginning.

In the before the beginning the objective was to write a scene from my life told in omniscient third person. This is something that I had a hard time doing, but the teacher was particularly inspiring and filled my heart with the ache of wanting to impress him.

Looking back I am no longer sure that my motives were simply to bask in his approval for my becoming creatively liberated, or to be simply carnally consumed by his spirit made flesh. I did love the flash in his eyes whenever a particular passion in art was discussed. Now, as I look back on it I wonder that my having aged did not bring at least some token of understanding, or even an iota less confusion. Or perhaps it is simply that youth misunderstands what real understanding is, and that is to expand from impossibility what can be true and untrue at the same time.

But let me keep it childhood simple: I had a story to write and an older boy to impress. Thus I strove with all my imagination to be my story's God. For all I know I may even have said a quiet, not really believed by me prayer to that end because I was still a part of my family and heartfelt parental prayer always preceded dinner, groundings and the rare but ever questionable strappings. The important things, I guess, were what needed prayer and boy was this story important.

No one warned me of the dangers of imagination, and so I put imagination into the pre-textual page as God, and that imagination took me to the Biblical adage about sparrows falling, and 'But the very hairs of your head are numbered.' God is in the details, I realized, and that requires omniscience.

Oddly enough I know now that it was my complete lack of imagination that had me begin the story with me sitting in a room — my bedroom, in a rather uncomfortable wooden chair, old oak and without wheels or a cushion. With only some hesitation I wrote that all down, and the details of the desk and its scratches and ink stains too. And then what was on it and under it: books, dolls, a teddy bear, Disneyland ride ticket from when I was young, a photo with me and my dad when he had a long beard, iPod, carpet, dust bunnies. Then more detail. A Wrinkle in Time, To Kill a Mocking Bird and a ragged and stained cloth bound Tale of Peter Rabbit, a childhood favourite; threadbare pale green wool carpet, a single sock with a hole at the toe and in the heal, etc.

After that it got easy. I wrote everything I could see, in as much detail as my imagination demanded of me, down to the number of teeth marks on the plastic end of the pen I liked to chew on to make myself look like I was thinking whenever I heard my father creak down the hallway to surprise me with a 'Homework finished yet, Jen?' check. And I wrote that down too.

I did not write that my ability to see is — was imperfect. I began listing in the morning, Sunday after early morning church. The day had begun overcast and was now wet with a steady light rain. As such it was a perfect day for writing, if what I was doing could be called that.

I wrote steadily, but steadily faster and I remember feeling pleased with myself when I finished the first scribbler of details around the time mom call 'Jennifer, it's time for lunch!' And I wrote that down. 'I'm busy right now!' I called back to her through the closed door. 'Doing school work! Is it okay if I eat it in here?' And I wrote that down and the details of the next scribbler - red Mead metal coil 200 pages, etc.

That my mother did not question me right then was a warning sign, the dangerous kind because it didn't look like a one. Instead, after what must have been a pause, she called back 'Okay,' and a few minutes later she'd set lunch down in front of me. Homemade mac & cheese. And I wrote that down, and the details of the pasta and the paprika and parmesan cheese in the bread crust and the roasted sliced tomato and pepper and olive oil and the aroma and the taste. I did not write down why she did, but what she did and wore doing it. Even that her hair was bobbed, that she wore glasses and just a hint of make-up.

After lunch my listing seemed to take on supernormality and I went through three scribblers and five pens before the call for supper. My details had moved beyond my room — the closet was tough! And encompassed the house, one room at a time. Then the yard, including the trees — four Japanese maples, three ornamental cherries two jack pines and a robin's nest in a pear tree. I was just finishing the street when I was surprised by mom's 'Supper time!'

I stopped, and set my pen down with stiffened fingers. I rubbed them as I rose and then turned to leave the room and screamed when I saw what walked past the large mirror resting on the floor, angled against the wall. I don't remember fainting but the next thing I remember was the sound of my family's voices too close to my face and too full of anxiety. I think someone was slapping my hand.

When I looked over I saw her, just as I'd written down in my book. And apparently she was the one holding and none too gently slapping my hand. I could feel mine in hers, and hear and feel the other one slapping me, but I didn't see her hands! I screamed again, and this time jumped up oblivious to dad's and mom's frantic 'What's wrong?' to re-look at myself in the mirror.

I wasn't there! I saw my dress and shoes and my hands, but nothing else. I had no arms or head, no legs or feet. I turned to look at my parents, and I saw my father's beard, just as I'd described it, and his kind eyes with the noticeable laugh lines, but the rest of his face wasn't written down. When I looked towards the door I could see his hands reaching for me, but where my mother's hands should have been I saw instead the cuff's of her Sunday chores' blouse, blue with splashes of flour and mystery colours. Just as I'd described. When I looked at my mother's face the concern was visible everywhere but in here eyes, which for some reason did not exist, lost in an opaque disk of nothing.

'Wait!' I called, voice cracking to keep tears from being triggered as I moved unsteadily to the books of lists.

'What's wrong?' they pleaded.

'Please, just wait. Please,' I begged. 'Don't move, stay there!'

Frantically I flipped to the first book and looked for where I'd described my father and me in the picture. I gasped in horror when I read what I'd written: '… My father standing beside me, his eyes crinkled in laughter as they always are after he'd given me a beard-tickle.' What I'd scribbled, what I'd painstakingly described were the things that I'd remembered perfectly but I'd omitted the other ones because they weren't important enough to be perfectly remembered. And I'd describe how my hair looked that day, with the ribbon mom had tied into it that morning, but not my face.

My mind was reeling. This is impossible, I thought. And looked again to the faceless image of the mirrored me; and then at my mother and father, and their missing pieces.

I quickly flipped to the front of book #2 to see how I'd described mom. Yup, the mom who was mouthing 'What' wrong, baby?' was the one'd I'd described in scribbled ink. I tried to answer, but my voice box wasn't working. I creaked out a couple of 'I… I… I.. 's before my father said, 'If you're pregnant, Jennifer, we don't care. In fact a new baby would be great for both of us.'

'I'm not pregnant!' I barked back, genuinely surprised that my father thought me an easy and careless lay!

'No, no, I'm sure you're not,' my father stumbled his words. 'I'm just trying to say that even if you were pregnant, we'd take care you.' He paused. 'You don't have to,' drifted into my panicking brain.

I went to the window, and saw our trees, and the giant neighbour's tree, all of which I'd described. Not so much the neighbour's house, although it did have a big chimney, just like I'd described, and smoke.

I jumped back to the desk, and opened the last book to the last open page, and began to describe the neighbour's ugly red house in as much detail as memory allowed me to. And when I looked at it again, it was now far more detailed, although now it had become decidedly lopsided as if it were some kind of antagonistically conjoined split-level / raised-level house. 'But that's not my memory!' I cried out loud.

'Whatever do you mean, dear?' my mother asked. And I missed that warning too, another dangerous one. 'You stay here, please, and we'll get you help.'

'I don't need help!' I yelled.

But I did. I needed perfect recall, and a lot more pens and books. Instead my mother called emergency, and while I was scribbling the details of my world back into existence an EMT armed with a loaded syringe stabbed me in the arm with a drug that knocked me out. Good-bye, world.

When next I woke, I knew I was in a hospital even before I opened my eyes. It was the smell. In the bed beside me was somebody snoring, loudly. I turned my head to see who was there, but when I opened my eyes I couldn't see. I couldn't see the snorer or anything — 'I'm blind!' I cried which got some of the staff to move more urgently around me. After the staff and other patients settled, I heard someone I couldn't see me tell me that he was a doctor, and that I was now in good hands. 'What hands?' I thought. I hadn't described them into existence yet.
Now for the fushigi.

Today my wife called me at work to ask me to pick up some groceries on the way home from a local market. This is a very unusually but not unheard of request, and it is a small dog leg to do so. Today, for the first time ever on a Tuesday I broke the hurry get home fast rule and stopped in at Renaissance Books. (My hope is to catch some Chomsky or Jung that I've not yet got.) This was to be a very quick look and see if I get lucky. I didn't, but when I drew a
blank I took a quick look at the self-help section to see if I there were any other writers there I am also looking for writers like Marie-Louise von Franz or David K. Reynolds or Sheldon Kopp. An example of one I am not looking for, however, is Wayne Dyer.

Thus arose the fushigi, when my eye caught a book by Wayne Dyer:
You'll See It When You Believe It: The Way to Your Personal Transformation. HarperCollins.
ISBN: 0060937335

No, I did not buy it. I've read two of his early books, and seen him on TV a couple of times, and while I believe that what he argues is fundamentally true, he does not provide me with any new information.

What struck as the fushigi was that my short story was about how a young woman discovers that her fundamental ability to see is proscribed by what she is able to see in her imagination and then make manifest on the page. I wasn't consciously writing that in my story, although I am well aware of the philosophy that to make something manifest requires the believe in its existence in one's life.

Like I said, a small fushigi.

Sunday, September 18, 2011

2011.09.18 — The Dogs' Masters — A Sonnet


As I'm about to write this, the AMAZING Zoë Keating is playing



Both the song and image seem almost perfect for the sonnet I wrote earlier today. It was inspired by the subject 'Mood Swings' from the Goodreads Weekly Short Story Contest and Company, which includes a weekly poetry suffrage section.

So, click the Play GUI above and read
The Dogs' Masters

The moods of nature swing with ambivalent
indifference, cool to the high summer's sun.
Without need of ice the dogs lie content
while in shade their masters strive to have fun.

At the pendulum's obverse comes winter,
dark beneath the stark panoply of stars.
Nose down and tails wagging the dogs canter
while their masters in snow boots de-ice their cars.

With the grace of easy equanimity
fall the rains of spring and the leaves of fall.
The dogs' play is time's spontaneity
while their masters trudge to end the day's call.

       Who's it that drinks-in the scent of life's mud?
       And who but the masters wash out in its flood?

Friday, September 16, 2011

2011.09.16 — Ian & Sylvia and a Windy Fushigi* or Two

This was a rare — no, it was a unique Sunday (September 11th) that began with my waking early after a relatively late night. While my waking early on Sundays is unusual, my waking before my wife has happened at most a dozen or so times in thirty-two years. This beginning may not have been a singularity, but its rarity filled me the joy of beginning my morning by and with my self, to quietly watch the world move into the morning's sunshine in my own way, at my own pace.

With "O frabjous day! Callooh! Callay!" reverberating inside my head I grabbed Saturday's Globe & Mail, which is likewise a Sunday morning event at least as rare as my waking before my wife. With it I settle into my favourite chair and turn on CBC Radio2 before 7am, which is yet another thing I haven't done on a Sunday morning in … I don't remember when. And thus begins this little fushigi: Part I.

So, while Molly Johnson, jazz singer and weekend radio host chatted and played her eclectic mix I moved my way through the 'Focus' and 'Arts' sections of the paper, skipping, as usual, the disinformation-al 'A' and 'Business' sections.

I turn to the penultimate page (R17) of the 'Arts' section and see the following headline:
Four Strong Winds: Ian & Sylvia
by John Einarson with Ian Tyson and Sylvia Tyson
Review by Li Robbins
From Saturday's Globe and Mail. Published Friday, Sep. 09, 2011
And I do a double take. Re-read the headline and more carefully listen to the radio. Yup. I'm in the middle of Neil Young's voice in perhaps the definitive cover of 'Four Strong Winds'.

Completely useless, undoubtedly meaningless, and yet… when does a string of truly bizarre conicdences remove themselves from statistical improbability into synchronicity?

So, now for part II of the fushigi. It actually occurred last month. I got busy doing other things and since it was so small I didn't get around to transcribing the terse blue sticky note into the blog. But, since 'Four Strong Winds' has come up, I decided to cheat it into the blogosphere, here.

It begins with my undertaking yet another rare action. No, I didn't wake up before my wife. I did something even more rare: I sent an inquiry on a job, notice of which I received via e.mail from the CCPA (Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives). I didn't quite apply for it because I didn't quite have the desired experience and skills, but I did have a significant number of the them. Also, the job is in Ottawa, a city about 3500km away, and very cold. (But one my wife loved when she lived there 40 years ago.) And the job's starting salary would be a pay cut.

I thought about this for a long time, but the thought of changing jobs pushed me to send an inquiry from work on August 9th.

Later that morning one of my co-workers and a friend, whom I've nick-named Marcus Aurelius, came by my pod. After the usual morning greetings he commented that he'd got into the office late that morning because he'd dropped his sister off at the airport to go back to Ottawa.

Curious. I have gone years without having personal relationship with Ottawa and within 2 hours I have 2.