The January 2001 Harvard Business Review published the article, Strategy as Simple Rules. Simple rules that are always in effect, allow individuals and organizations to survive and prosper in chaotic circumstances in the absence of centralized direction.
I am thinking about simple rules because the Consulate is better this afternoon; tidier. More organized. Despite the fact that I was sitting here in a familiar paralysis. This paralysis needs analysis. I don't know precisely what it is, but I needed a rule to break out of it.
Do something that needs doing. Then do the next thing.
It was something as miniscule as turning a box on its side. As moving a book. They were things so inconsequential that it seems folly to write about them. But they broke my paralysis, and they led to the next thing that needed doing.
This month, January 2021, will be the third anniversary of our trip to Calgary to venerate Saint Francis Xavier's severed arm. Over the course of 2018, the St. Francis Xavier Canadian Relic Pilgrimage saw the saint's arm fly in its own Air Canada seat, to fourteen cities across the country.
Francis was a University of Paris student in 1525 and was paired in student residence with his roommate, Ignatius of Loyola. That is the source of my interest in the relic, that St. Ignatius was his roommate; that this arm shook hands and embraced the founder of the Jesuits and author of The Spiritual Exercises.
I am fond of saying that I believe in the saints. I do not believe what they believed, but I believe in them. Even believing might be overstatement since it implies an element of faith. I trust that the stories of the saints are more or less sound; they existed, they did things. Whether the things they did constitute miracles or not is another matter, but I am prepared to accepted that these people of faith were real.
But I do not share their faith in an extrinsic God beyond what we otherwise accept as reality. God is not separate from myself and the existence of which I am a part. We exist in each other's image, as it says in Genesis 1:27.
Genesis 1:27: “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.”
The hypothesis that dreaming is an important feature of mental health seems reasonable to me, and I trust the science that says everyone does it even if they do not remember doing so. It has been a long time since I can remember dreaming. Perhaps my night-time habits reduce dream frequency or they eliminate my ability to remember them, but I hardly ever remember dreams.
Consequently, that a dream fragment held on in my mind this morning is worthy of a remark. I cannot remember the antecedent action to this dream scene, but a male of European ancestry, with a closely shaved head and wearing a blue and white checked shirt, was facing me from about an arm's length away and he raised his left arm towards me in a Nazi salute.
I was not offended or afraid, just a slightly unsure, as though I did not fully understand what was intended with the gesture or how I was supposed to respond.
So, in response, I swung my right arm around and clapped his Nazi salute with a high-five.
His face did not change. The fellow in the blue and white shirt just took a half step back and I became aware of another person nearby who he turned to face, and he repeated his left-handed Nazi salute.
It is December 19th, 2020. I have to check the number of lock-down days since March 15th. It is a Saturday which is, by the calendars I subscribe to, the last day of the week. It is Saturn's Day, named for the Titan who ate his children. Francisco Goya's 1823 painting, Saturn Devouring His Son, comes to mind. It is the day best suited day of the week to try to remember the past week and digest what it birthed.
We bought a 1926 house in downtown Edmonton during Pandemic. We also bought a car. In case I have not previously mentioned these facts. The house is in a stereotypical state of repair for its vintage. It is marked-up, cracked, and tilted, but shimmers of its earlier elegance are clear in the ceiling textures, old windows, and layout. It reminds us of the HBO series Treme, so sometimes we call it "Treme". It doesn't sit squarely on the city lot and is closer than allowed to the north property line. This makes me think that the house pre-dates the survey lines and that once this was a grand farmhouse surrounded by fertile fields. There is an ornately framed black and white portrait on the floor in the garden shed, the decorative vines and leaves on the top of the oval frame have broken off, of a married couple, the bride seated, the groom standing. I image them living on this farm.
I can't put a pin in the moment when the idea came to me, in the darkness of a 2019 night, that we could all be united in love for God.
I do remember that it was 2014 when I noticed the God-shaped hole in my life. It was after my second or third viewing of Christopher Nolan's, Interstellar, and I heard myself describing the movie as "my salvation story"; the narrative that kept hope alive in me that somehow humanity was going to get through the apocalyptic disaster that seems to be looming ahead of us. With its dedication to accurate depiction of the state-of-knowledge in astrophysics, Interstellar appealed deeply to my idiosyncratic atheism.
But then I noticed the deus machina; that Interstellar's humanity survives due to the intervention of fourth dimensional humans from the future. And if I need to believe that our very distant descendants will learn to navigate time more easily than we are able to navigate space, and will also acquire the power to manipulate black holes to create artificial wormholes in order to save us, well then, I might as well believe in God, no? Because black holes are, like, big.
I fudge it a little though. On one hand, I conceptualize God as the underlying foundation of all things, like the sum of the Higgs Field and every boson that has ever manifested since the beginning of time. And on the other, I prefer to focus on the saints as intermediaries. I believe in the saints fully. I might not believe what they believed.
A little strangely, Flo does not seem to appear as a character in the old ERC/CEBA stories (Environmental Resource Centre/Centre for Environmental Business and Advocacy) of this blog. She was a pillar of the the organizations that made those places go. A book-keeper by trade, and Treasurer of the Tomorrow Foundation for a Sustainable Future for many years. And, most significantly, the rep for TF on more than one bingo association. Flo helped keep the lights on for most of the south Edmonton environmental organizations.
My cell-phone rang near the end of the work day, July 3. The caller was not in my phone contacts so only a phone number appeared. When I answered and heard, "Hey Myles," I recognize the voice of Flo's son.
"Hey," I replied. "I'm sorry man, but I'm afraid you're going to tell me bad news."
"We lost mom last night."
I expressed my sadness and condolences and asked to be kept informed about memorial services.
Later, while departing Aquarius (that is the fake blog name of my cubicle at work), I stopped at the entrance to SMF's cubicle. He has been my neighbor for maybe a year now. I mentioned to him that one of my old friends had died. I did not say "another friend" had died though I thought it.
"It's such subtle thing about getting older," I said. "We think getting older is about aches and energy and diminishing eyesight. But no one ever told me about when death changes. When we're younger and a friend dies, it is tragic. But somewhere along the line, the tragedy stops and all you have is sadness."
This weekend I searched my archives for this picture taken by the sign of the old Argyll Bingo hall which used to stand near where the Argyll Casino is today. It's a strange feeling to look at a picture from your own photo album and notice that almost half of the people in it are no longer with us.
I think that I will post a link to this entry on my FaceBook page and tag some people to say that while we may not be in touch, I still tell myself good stories about you.
I am imagining a parasite that preferentially feeds on neurons containing a specific concentration of acetylcholine. Too little or too much of the neurotransmitter makes a brain cell distasteful to the parasite and so it is left intact. Just the right amount of acetylcholine, though, is like wasabi on sashimi and the parasite devours the neuron, which causes the character to forget.
And not just forgetting as in a lapse in memory where, once reminded, mnemonic information washes back to mind, recreating a mostly complete picture of what has happened like a watercolor painting accidentally splashed by a drink. No, this neuro-parasite consumes a memory so that things are utterly forgotten. Obliterated, as though the causal events had never happened, and what would otherwise be considered "reminder stories" are experienced as completely new information.
I was thinking it could be a mutant form of toxoplasma gondii or a pork tapeworm since exposure to these creatures is common enough through cat feces and improperly cooked meat. But Google research suggests that the Loa loa threadworm might a more viable choice as infection by this parasite contributes to encephalopathy, a condition that can cause cognitive losses, memory problems, and personality changes, inter alia. The character's infection by loa loa would have occurred when he opened a box of mangos containing a piece of fruit infested with some surviving mango flies.
Dad and I visited Marceline, Missouri in 2011 as we both happened to be in the state in June that year. Dad would spend weeks living in Branson to see the latest in old-time county music shows, and that year I was in St. Louis while Hanna attended an international librarian conference.
Marceline gave the impression, to me at least, of being a depressed Midwestern town doing its level best to make use of every asset at its disposal to preserve its social and economic viability. It is most famous for being the psychological hometown of Walt Disney.
Disney lived in Marceline as a boy from 1906-1910, in-between longer periods in Chicago and Kansas City. But despite the short duration of his life there, the town made a powerful impression on him. Marceline was an archetype of Walt's personal culture, a touchstone of memory, that informed other things that he created.
Interpretive signs were posted on landmarks all along Main Street Marceline, described the young Walt's experiences there and alluded to the influences they had on later Disney films and features of Disney theme parks.
Several of the buildings were vacant with their windows dressed with art or displays along Disney themes but lacking the production values and polish of their "originals".
Beatrice Cassidy Adams texted last week to ask if I am still posting on LiveJournal and e-cheered "yay!" when I replied. The gap since 2015 creates a peculiar feeling. "Time moves strangely," she added.
I read through an article on Carlo Rovelli's work last week that was promoting his recent book The Order of Time and only understood the things I already understood. I'll have to work on it further, but my thought is that Beatrice is correct, time does move strangely.
It is the morning of May 19, 2018. A year ago today I texted Griz to encourage him to set up an another hangout for us with an old friend and colleague. And he had replied the next day.
He didn't follow up, but that was not surprising. Like me, Griz' habits are largely defined by work and we can go for long periods without connecting with people for strictly social reasons. But not long after I was looking for a phone number for a mutual acquaintance and phoned Griz to ask for it.
A woman's voice answered his cell phone, which had never happened before. I remember knowing this meant something was wrong and making the choice not to admit it to myself. I would play along with this reality, this scene, and wait to be told that something was wrong. Griz was dead. He had died May 21, 2017, the day after he had replied about setting up lunch or beers.
Intercontinental cities I have visited: Beijing, Shanghai, Brussels, Paris, Venice, Florence, Palermo, Rome, Manila, Bangkok, and Tokyo.
That's actually not a bad looking list of cities. There were actually seven others in China, but I don't count them. If I can't even remember their names (Wu Xi? Ching An?) then I shouldn't count them. What I have forgotten doesn't count.
But the things I do remember, those don't really count either. My trip to Beijing was the year after the Chinese government cracked down on the pro-democracy protests at Tiananmen Square in 1989, so the memories I conjure, sitting here this morning, based on those experiences are about 28 years old. Has China changed at all in three decades?
According to the World Bank, over the course of 30 years, poverty in Thailand declined from 67% in 1986 to 7.2% in 2015 ~ certainly, a remarkable achievement. That 7.2% translates into 7.1 million people, so there should be no laurel resting, but an almost 60% change is worth mentioning.
What I'm reflecting on this morning though is the way tourism seems to iconify the poor. The more incomes seem to rise due to globalizing forces, two things seem to happen. On one hand, lifestyles become more like wealthy lifestyles anywhere. High end retail shopping areas in Manila do not look that much different from the ones in Las Vegas. The Bangkok food courts are cool for their distinctive menus, but the decor is a lot like West Edmonton Mall.