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Wednesday, August 31, 2005

Fellowship of the (Blog)Ring

You'll notice I've added a couple of links. It seems that I have started a bit of a craze with the whole blogging thing. And I think that's a good thing. Previously, many of the pearls of wisdom that my friends and I exchanged were lost (horribly lost!) when the delete button hit the emails we sent. In a way, this is a much more permanent way to communicate our opinions, rants, likes, dislikes, vagaries, etc. A communal method of journaling, if you will.

I wonder what the future holds for blogging. Are we all self-indulgent (well, er, yes ...), do we have delusions of grandeur (in that we believe somebody out there in the ether gives a damn what we think) or do we simply believe in the democratization of information (ie do we want to become citizen-journalists)? Not sure - haven't figured it out. But I do have a little daydream that one day in the very distant future, an historian will stumble upon a backup CD of my little blog, figure out the long-obsolete technology, and I will become the subject of a history paper. Now that's an absolutely fabulous fantasy for historians.

So long live our neophyte Fellowship of the (Blog)Ring! I'd love to make more Tolkien-esque allusions, but those who know me know that I'm really not a fan...

Monday, August 29, 2005

Present History

Once again, I was glued to CNN today as my back recuperated. Hurricane Katrina was all over the screen, and little dramas played out continuously. No doubt we will have more over the next few days. This happens to me every time a major event happens, and, being my usual, introspective self, I began to wonder why. It happened during 9/11, it happened during Dianna's death, and I have no doubt it will happen again. I think it has something to do with the fact that I am an historian by training, and also a huge sci-fi fan. In other words, I rather like the past and the future - but I'm not too keen on the present. Except when major events like this happen.

Upon reflection (and I do a lot of that) I think it's because this is the time when I can actually "touch' history. It is unfolding right before my eyes, and I want to get as much of it, from as many different perspectives (or sources), as I can. And even then, I know I will only ever get a portion of the true story, or perhaps better, the whole story. So by extension that means that I will only ever glean a portion of what actually happened when I study any other aspect of history. And that it will be subjective, given who is reporting it, or what sources I choose to study.

This became clear to me as I was completing my PhD (little hints about Bast continue to be dropped, no?) . The more I studied and discovered about my topic, the more I believed I didn't know really anything about it. I think this is a rather general discovery of the PhD process, but it still left me feeling my limited intellectual capacity acutely.

Back to the future then, for it is not yet written.

Sunday, August 28, 2005

Karma

I've been thinking a lot about karma the last couple of days. I've actually had quite a bit of time to think, as I've thrown out my back and am now on strong drugs (yay!). Whether or not my thinking is therefore clear is debatable. It was so bad that I ended up in Emergency on Friday night. I was "tremulous" as the nurse put it, and felt like hell - about to pass out, hot, cold, etc. I didn't know that pain could do that to you (but it can) and I sure didn't think my pain was that bad (but it was).

Living alone, you get to be pretty autonomous and independent. When something like this happens, you really need friends around you. I was lucky enough to have been around two wonderful people on Friday night - fairly new friends - who made sure I got to emergency, had something to eat and drink, and was well entertained during the waiting game to see the doc. And then my friend, Z (not sure if she wants her full name out!) came over after I had a bad reaction to the initial drugs given to me at emergency (it was a bad weekend.) Another visit from Z and Sarah today made me feel well looked after and generally all warm and fuzzy. Granted, that last part could have been the drugs ...

Earlier on Friday - when I was still ambulatory - I had passed a bottle-picker on campus. I had been somewhat surprised to see him, and as a reflex reaction, walked to avoid him. He sensed this immediately, and said "Excuse me, but I seem to have misplaced my smile - you couldn't give me yours, could you?" To which I smiled broadly at him and replied, "Yes, I can give you mine freely and without charge." We both felt the moment to be a happy one, as opposed to how it started out.

That's good karma, and that's why we have to pay it forward. You just never know when you'll need it yourself one day.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

A Slower Pace

My friend, Sarah, nudged me today. She noted I hadn’t posted anything in a week, and asked was I tired of blogging already? No, certainly not tired of blogging. But I did read In Praise of Slow by Carl Honore recently, and it has made me rethink the frantic pace at which we live life.

This book is subtitled How a worldwide movement is challenging the cult of speed. This is the worldwide movement I have been looking for all my life. Ever since I spent a year in Spain in my mid-20s, I have tried to resist the North American ethos of work, earn, spend, repeat. The Spanish work to live – they do not live to work. They take time to savour good, slow food, good, slow wine, and I suppose good, slow sex (never got to sample any while I was there). There are pockets of resistance here in North America, but I am based in Calgary, and let me tell you that here, people wear 90-hour work weeks as badges of honour. So I am facing an uphill battle. But they’re always the most fun. I now have enough moxy to refuse to attend breakfast meetings, which are popular in Calgary, due to the fact I am rarely out of bed before 8:30. On this, I am firm. My circadian rhythm differs from yours and please respect that.

I am also seriously thinking of joining the Slow Food Calgary club (http://www.slowfoodcalgary.ca/). I just can’t seem to get around to it.

Did I mention that In Praise of Slow is right beside The Lazy Person’s Guide to Success on my bookshelf? ‘Nuff said for tonight.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Saint Ulphia

Those who know me, know I have an interest in female saints (and, of course, Egyptian female goddesses). As I sit here on vacation, I have had time to reflect on them once again. Here is the first in a series of brief vignettes of my favourites.

St. Ulphia was a noble maiden in Amiens in northern France, who desired to consecrate herself to God as a virgin. Although she was beautiful and had many suitors, her mind was made up. At the age of 25, her parents allowed her to take a vow of perpetual chastity and she received the veil from the Bishop of Amiens.

Desiring solitude, she left Amiens for a secluded place. Here she lived in a simple little hut, and helped an aged hermit who also lived there, St. Domitius. He in turn used to pass her hut on the way to the first church service of the new day, matins, and knock on the door to wake her. She would then rise and follow him to church.

One night, Ulphia had a great deal of trouble sleeping. The cause? The area where she lived was quite marshy and was inhabited by many frogs. It was the noise of these frogs that kept her awake. After what seemed like an eternity, she managed to fall asleep. The next morning, Domitius, as usual, knocked on her door. Receiving no answer, and assuming the young woman had left before him, he continued on to church. When he arrived at the church, he discovered his mistake, and after matins, he hurried back to her hut, afraid of what might have happened to Ulphia. But there she stood, in her doorway, and actually chastised Domitius for failing to wake her up that morning. After the old man had explained himself, Ulphia surmised that the fault lay with the frogs and promptly fell to the ground, begging God himself to quiet them. Domitius added his prayer for the same with a hearty “Amen.”

From that day forward, the frogs were quiet, as they are to this day according to the locals.

I think what this reminds us to do is to be kind to ourselves if sleep overtakes us once in awhile. In our fast-paced lives, our bodies sometimes need more sleep than we think. Take a nap today - and blame it on the frogs.

Thursday, August 11, 2005

A Moderate Amount of Filth

So I'm going away for about a week and I'm running around trying to get everything tied up before I leave the city. That includes cleaning the apartment from top to bottom in advance of my lovely cat-sitter coming to stay. (Yes, Bast has a cat - how odd, no?)

This got me thinking about various levels of cleanliness. I really enjoy living on my own because I can actually put up with a moderate amount of filth. I do finally reach a threshold point where I must, and I do, clean. I think I like to see the dirt first, so when I clean, I know it's gone. I've lived with many, many people in the past, though, and that's where the different levels of clean come in. I lived with one room-mate in Spain who made each of us clean the apartment once a week. There were four of us, which meant on any given day there was a high probability of walking in on a wet floor. Granted, there were many cockroaches that bunked in with us too, so perhaps it was a good idea.

I actually had a spat with one of my room-mates in Ottawa about this very issue. I kept telling her that I could put up with more dirt than she could, and just because her tolerance was lower than mine didn't mean I had to clean in order to have the place up to her level. My Goddess it was difficult.

So that brings me back to the here and now. I must on some unconscious level know that my level of clean is not shared by others, or why else would I be cleaning now? I guess I don't want people to think I'm a little piglet - which I am. So it's all about keeping up appearances, right?

It's all very confusing - and I have to go clean a toilet.

Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Poker Night

I've been curious for some time now about this new craze about poker. And especially women's involvement in it. Seems to me we'd be naturals, considering bluffing is a key element to the game. Not that I'm saying we're good at lying, but we are good at concealing and stretching the truth when necessary.

So I made a big decision in my life. I'm going to start a poker night this fall, just for the girls. Now this may not sound big to you out there in the blogosphere, but I don't think I've had people over to my place in about eight years. I like my space to be my space - no intrusions. Plus, I never felt it was big enough. But hey, for a poker game, what do you need? A table, chairs, a deck of cards, chips (poker and the high-fat, high-calorie potato kind) and voila! Poker Night is born.

I've started asking around my friends already, and they seem keen. (I'm assuming, and hoping, it's not because of some morbid fascination with finally seeing my place.) This is heartening. Looks to me like poker could become the bridge of the 21st century. Ever since the gang in Star Trek TNG started playing it, I've been curious. Got the rules, even read them, but I'm still a bit confused. (Does not bode well for my money-winning abilities.) Hoping my friends' confusion will equal, or outweigh, my own....

Monday, August 08, 2005

Another day, another topic. Today I'm ranting about capitalism. Don't get me wrong - I'm not a communist, but I do lean left. And even as I'm leaning I like to make a buck as much as the next little capitalist (I was even a Junior Achiever!), but I do see a fatal flaw in our beloved system. There is no cap to growth. We are all on a never-ending journey to raise the GNP and the TSX to new and greater heights. With no cap to growth, we never have "enough". Have you ever imagined a group of CEO's getting together and saying,"Well, George, we've made enough this quarter. How about you?" Never gonna happen. Must make more - must cut costs - must increase productivity - must produce bigger, better dividends for shareholders.

That mentality eventually filters down to us - you remember us, the proletariat? (Ooops, inadvertently inserted communist reference...). Well, guess what? We're never satisfied either! We're always aspiring to something that we don't have. They even have a term for it - "aspirational living". How absolutely horrible. That means we'll never have enough. Always on the look out for the next house (or the additional vacation property); the next car (or the additional sportscar); the new couch; the better refrigerator. Where will it end?

Didn't Mick Jagger once say, "I can't get no satisfaction"? Sounds like a great capitalist mantra to me.

Friday, August 05, 2005


Topic of the day - eunuchs. It really is a fascinating world out there, and we simply don't know the half of it. I came across an article the other day by a man who had been castrated because of prostate cancer. It was a fascinating read, especially where he discussed how he now views the world differently - sans testoterone. Seems that he watches faces much more intently, instead of his attention being dragged, er, elsewhere. What really surprised him was that faces of men also attracted him. Read his story for yourself at: http://www.eunuch.org/Alpha/C/ea_195222castrati.htm

This got me thinking about eunuchs in general, and if there was a movement of modern-day eunuchs out there. Seems there is one, and quite a few men voluntarily want to be castrated. There are even a few who advertise for a woman to do it to them. Hmmmm. Now that made me think. That had never before been on my life list, but one should never have a complete life list. I do very much enjoy eating prairie oysters around Stampede time....

Take a look for yourself: http://www.eunuch.org/ May the gender continuum carry on being fluid and diverse!

Thursday, August 04, 2005

I've been doing some thinking today about corporations. I guess it was that Air France miracle at Pearson that started it all off. I kept thinking that if Air France really wanted to turn this into a good news, celebratory story, they would give each and every one of those 309 passenger-survivors a free flight a year for as long as they live. Now that's thinking about corporate reputation strategically. If it had been a WestJet flight, they would have been all over it. Westjet has been very canny over the years, always stepping up to the plate to give away strategic free flights that enhance their corporate reputation.

But what happens to corporations who merge and one, or both, reputations disappear? Perhaps we need a little corporation cemetery, with all these little headstones listing their first and last ticker prices. The body corporate and all that. Here in Calgary we still have buildings named for long-dead, or merged, corporations. Eerie, really, walking into the Dome Building.

So this is blogging. Cool. Stay tuned.

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Brave New World

I am a Luddite. I took the quiz in Maclean's, and it's official. My cell phone is from a different geological era, I do not own a DVD player, and I'm pretty sure an iPod is a new hybrid of peas. So why am I blogging? Look to the name - Bast - Egyptian goddess of play, amongst other things. It sounds like fun, and I'm all over that. We could all do with a little more fun in our lives. So this is my foray into the brave new world of blogging. I really have no idea what I'm supposed to be doing, but from what I hear, that's OK.

As for what I'll be posting - whatever takes my fancy, ticks me off, or makes me giggle. So keep watching. You just never know what might make it to the blog.