Friday, December 30, 2011

Seasons Greetings from the SHL

This is what my friends and I at the Strat-o-Matic Hockey League were up to over the holidays. Neil, Dave and Phil are not featured in the video because they were busy with the filming, music recording and post-production.

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Hooray for pills

On my way to work, a man, younger than I, gets on the bus and sits nearby. He's huffing and puffing and soons starts to lay his hand on his chest.

"Does anyone have a cell phone?" he asks. "Can someone call me a cab? I think I need to get to the hospital."

"May I ask what's wrong?" I asked. I'm first-aid trained but I prefer not to say so. It doesn't make me Marcus Welby. No sense getting people's hopes up.

He muttered something about an operation he'd had recently, said he had to run for the bus and now he had terrible heartburn.

"Would Rolaids help, do you think?"

"Yeah. I'm sure it would."

I produced the roll I keep in my breast pocket, suggested he take two and hang on to a third just in case.

Five minutes later he was feeling fine.

Public Transportation 2
Doomsday 4

Friday, December 23, 2011

Busing into St. Catharines Wednesday the HSR is so hopelessly off schedule that I can not make the connections recommended by the web site route planner -- as usual. So I have to abandon the Hamilton buses and blow money I can't afford on a cab in order to get to the very special pole in the ground known as the Stoney Creek Go Station in time for the GO bus.

It's raining of course and it rains again the next day when I travel home from Welland:

Five different transit systems.
Six different buses.
Seven hours duration.
One soaked body.

The GO driver distracting himself the entire way with constant animated conversation with passengers at the front of the coach while barreling through rain and darkness with two dozen mortals on board and no seat belts: Priceless.

And the Niagara Region driver ducking out the front door for a cigarette while all his smoke blows directly into the bus and up my nose: Also priceless.

Public Transportation 1
Doomsday 4

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Time is cruel

The last time I was taking the city bus regularly was when I was in high school. Sometimes I sat at the front of the bus where, on occasion, I would stand up and offer my seat to an old person.

Last night I got on the city bus. A kid stood up and offered me his seat.




But score one for buses.

Public transportation 1
Doomsday 2

I took the seat by the way.

Saturday, December 17, 2011

To buy or not to buy

I was very confident that my trooper of an old truck would be my last vehicle; that I would keep it repaired and running until I succeeded in organizing my life in such a way that I did not require a vehicle for the purpose of employment and other regular commutes.

But I found myself in the rare situation where the vehicle remained operable right up until a moment where the list of upcoming repairs gathered a price tag far in excess of the value of the vehicle.

It was a no-brainer to sell it to a parts outfit for a few hundred bucks. No question about it. And what a relief not to find one's self in the all-to-common circumstance of over-repairing an old car just to discover too late that it should have been scrapped.

The problem is that I am not quite ready for post-vehicle life. And there are honestly only two barriers.

One. I promised the Liberal Theologian that when I moved my belongings into her fine home that I would provide some transportation to her as part of the deal. She has some pain and mobility issues and gave up driving. Based on her comments I'm confident that she would let me off the hook were I to ask. It would not please me though, to break a commitment. Ah? But what about my commitment to the environment? Good point.

If I still need a car for a while, I might at least vow to make it a more ecologically responsible choice than the previous beast. And I might vow to do my errands on foot when the weather is kind and vow to take the bus to work at least when conditions are favorable.

And the other barrier is the volunteer work at the Princess of Schools. Every summer I feel fond of, and committed to, the returning grade seven-come-eights. It's hard to imagine giving it up, and the commute from Dundas to Wellend by bus is strictly implausible. I will buy a car I think, basically because, as Pere Athol Murray says, to close my favorite Canadian film; The Hounds of Notre Dame: "I love those little muckers."

My latest music "video": Working Town

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Public transportation


I'm coasting along rather slowly in the Truck of Prominent Yellowness when the light ahead turns red. Naturally I step on the break pedal and naturally I expect this action to have some effect on the vehicle. The pedal thudding against the floor without resistance was not the effect I'd been hoping for.

I had a barrier on the left, cars on the right and one old grey car with lone driver ahead of me, stopped at the light. He and I were about to get to know each other real well.

I pounded the horn a few times. He saw me coming and had the idea I wasn't going to be stopping however their were cars crossing his path and he had no escape route either. The inevitable collision left his bumper dented and left my spoiler and fog lamps discombobulated. Add to that the absence of brakes, the need for new tires, the pending repair to the front suspension, the warning signs of transmission troubles, the engine's new habit of stalling during turns, the gratuitously peeling clear-coat layer, accumulation of rust and the non-functioning speedometer and odometer on a twelve-year-old vehicle and the choice was clear. I called, not for a tow, but for a wrecker to come and get it.

You did well, banana barge. So long and goodbye.


I throw on a backpack and hit the streets of Dundas. I walk to the Winchester Arms for a cheap breakfast and watch the Jets demolish their dysfunctional opponent until half-time when it has become unbearable to watch.

I do some banking, then hit the library where I gather my holds and read a few chapters before the long hike home.

At this time I feel great. I'm getting valuable exercise. My feet are green transportation. That's important to me. I've been promising myself for years now that this truck would be my last vehicle for the purpose of regular commuting. Though a vehicle for the purpose of nomadic migration; the hunt for further poetic exploration and charitable opportunity, has always been forecasted with a sense of legitimacy. Though I'm not ready for that yet.

I can not overstate how joyful I felt on Sunday. A very significant measure of guilt had been lifted. The knowledge that I must cease this contribution to the grand pollution game goes back to the time when I still saw global warming as an interesting natural phenomena, less dire than our problems with cancer and asthma for instance. Unfortunately, honest observation over the last few years has left me with little doubt that our natural domination instincts in the hands of blindly mega-selfish North Americans have brought this still infantile human race to the premature brink of catastrophic and irreversible environmental and societal meltdowns.

I know this sounds bleak but there is a certainty that arises from successful poetic exploration: One does not need to save the world to find joy. Saving the world is a great idea but one needs only to accept the inevitable while excusing one's self from the process to garner a significant portion of joyful freedom. People who truly understand Buddhism will understand what I'm saying.


I spend an hour online planning my travel arrangements. Two Hamilton buses, one GO bus and one St. Catharines bus will get me where I'm going. The total cost is comparable to the cost of gas were I to drive, or half the price if I calculate depreciation etcetera.

Unfortunately the hour was misspent. The planning went for nought. The Hamilton buses prove to be ludicrously behind schedule. I have to sprint across an intersection to make my first connection and the GO bus connection is hopeless. I wait for an hour and a half for the next Niagara GO bus at the so called Stoney Creek station which consists of a pole in the ground. By the time the next bus arrives I am uncomfortably cold, choking on exhaust from all the idling trucks that frequent this intersection, and suffering severe back pain. There is not even a single bench on which to sit down here.

I'm severely dehydrated by the eventual end of the trip as there are bathrooms on none of the buses so I dared not drink anything. My first significant public transportation experience of the era of environmental quasi-awareness ranks somewhere between Harmful and Disastrous. The score:

Public transportation 0
Doomsday 1


There is little legitimacy in the idea of "faith in the human race" anymore, but my admiration for the human race is restored as I embark on my charitable endeavors while the people around me treat me also with kind charity. I score meals, rides and a fine bed for two nights from excellent friends. One fine secretary at the Princess of Schools even arranges for delivery of her medication from home so to lend me an important pill of the ilk I have forgotten at my own home far away.


Another hour online planning my voyage home. The first bus passes through the intersection as I am still approaching. I manage to draw the driver's attention but he goes on by. As I settle in for a thirty minute wait for the next bus, the clouds open up and I am drenched and cold in no time and again there is no bench of course.

On the Hamilton side I wander and squander for about forever looking for the mysterious route 5 bus, coincidentally the 5th of this trip. Who knew that on the bus itself they label it "52" instead of 5? Not the HSR online trip planner apparently.

What would amount to 90 minutes in car rides has taken the better of two full days and left me exhausted. How is one to feel motivated to choose green when our governments do so painfully little to make the choice palatable?

Public transportation 0
Doomsday 2

I'm not feeling good about our chances, humans.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

RSA Animate - The Empathic Civilisation

Though, to my lasting regret, the excellent Skeeter Willis declines to leave much writing here, he has at least sent us this little jewel. There is much I would applaud here and much I would be skeptical about. I am inclined perhaps to break this down into areas and comment on them in separate posts. We'll see about that. In the mean time I would suggest that this is some good testimony as far as getting us thinking about some very critical subjects.

More later.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

A Fondness for the Pondness

From age 7 to 17 I was a regular player with three separate surrounding street-hockey neighbourhoods and on the rare evenings that all three were simultaneously dormant, I was out in front of my house with my net and targets, practicing with Gretzky-like dedication. Spending far more time at the game than anyone else, it’s no surprise that I developed into a street-hockey star. As a teenager I never met a more skilled player. Whichever side I played for almost always won. I remember being encouraging to other kids. “Nice shot” or “Nice pass,” I’d say, with a clap on the back.

My dominance did not translate to the ice though. I had no skating skills and what worked with a tennis ball did not work with a puck. Whenever we moved the game to a frozen pond I went from king of the hill to one of the players of least impact. The guys who looked up to me on the street were now the ones nurturing me on the ice. “Nice shot” or “Nice pass,” they’d say and clap me on the back!

Obviously I preferred to play on the street then, right?

No. While street hockey was a constant joy, pond hockey was utopia. On the street I’d collect a stack of goals every game. Business as usual. But on the ice, scoring one goal took hard work and good fortune and was cause for great celebration. There is no sense of accomplishment without a challenge.

My friends were better than I at ice hockey because in addition to our pond games they all played “organized” ice hockey in arenas with uniforms to declare who the good guys and bad guys were, and referees to blow the whistle and stop the play, and comfortable wooden benches to sit on during all the shifts they were missing. Because with organized hockey you have to share the puck with 29 other kids so you only play twelve on the ice at a time. With pond hockey you have maybe ten kids total. Everyone plays the whole game and everyone gets the puck a lot.

Organized hockey has stiff boards used for cycling systems and dump-and-chase systems and occasionally you hit the boards the wrong way and you get injured and everyone claps for you when you finally limp back to the bench.

Pond hockey has snow banks which don’t facilitate systems. They merely compose a frame, and what is framed on that icy canvas of imagination is an artwork of creativity; skating, deeking, passing and improvising. And when you get knocked into the snow bank, everyone laughs, you most of all, and no one gets hurt.

Organized hockey has helmets and cages that make it harder to see things.

Pond hockey has toques with pompoms. And if someone laughs at your pompom you knock him in the snow bank.

Organized hockey has a lot of rules to keep everyone safe and reasons to stop what you’re doing and go back to the face-off circle and start over.

Pond hockey has friends on both teams who don’t want to hurt each other.

Organized hockey has red and blue lines so the refs have even more reasons to blow the whistle and stop everything.

Pond hockey says, Really? What the hell is that all about?

Organized hockey costs more money than many families can begin to contemplate.

Pond hockey is free. Sometimes you need a dad to create the pond so you need to buy or scavenge a few boards and some water.

Organized hockey has parents who behave like incorrigible maniacs whose very lives seem to depend on you defeating the evil boys on the other team.

Pond hockey has Dave’s dad who sometimes comes out and plays a game or two, watches another one and then goes home happy.

Organized hockey has stressed out coaches telling you what to do, helping you develop skills or systems and either praising you or giving you shit.

Pond hockey has freedom.

Organized hockey labels you winners and losers. You either go home relieved not to be the loser, or else resigned to being the loser.

Pond hockey has games up to five and then you switch the teams. Everybody wins some and loses some and by the time you get home you don’t remember. And there is no press waiting for the results so they can inform your municipality or your school community whether they too should feel like winners or losers.

Organized hockey has parents giving up lives of their own to drive you to arenas; sometimes in other cities. Lots of cars. Lots of pollution to choke on.

Pond hockey has Scott getting too close to the stream to fetch an errant puck and plunging through the ice, knee-deep in water, and everyone else rolling on the ice, just about asphyxiating from uncontrollable laughter.

Pond hockey also has frozen toes, illegal stick dimensions and brothers playing with brothers despite their age difference. Pond hockey has thousands of kids who will not make the NHL and one kid who stays behind in the gloomy dusk after the others go home, practicing his skating and knowing he’s getting better and pretending, just for a moment that he is Guy Lafleur.

Organized hockey has thousands of kids who will not make the NHL and too many parents who don’t seem to know it.

As I was driving to Strat-o the other night; an enterprise of abject hockey lunacy which I can not possibly defend in this space, I was thinking about organized sports for kids and trying to come up with one good reason why we have them.

I’m still trying.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011


In my "past life" I was like pretty much everyone. When a conversation arose and I believed myself to hold relevant information or experience concerning the subject, I would be eager to get my two cents in. It was a very normal ego thing.

These days it's interesting that I usually feel no compulsion to do that around most people. I normally expect that my perspectives are now so different from the norm that there is little point in trying to sell them to confirmed matrix-dwellers. I'm in the regular habit of remaining meek and quiet and letting people trust their feelings and their acquired misinformation and remain comfortably unchallenged. It's one of the very joyful and freeing manifestations of an ego that has been diminished by a strengthened consciousness.

Today though, at the Princess of Schools I decided to speak out to a teacher about my view of homework despite the likelihood that it would not be well received.

I told her that never would any theoretical child of mine be permitted to do homework. I explained that I couldn't imagine viewing a school system as my child's primary educator rather than myself, and that, as a secondary educator, it is ludicrous that a school system be privileged to dictate what my child will do on MY time!

And no, I'm not naively thinking that as a parent I would have all the free time in the world to spend every evening with my kids poring over a set of encyclopedias. Whether I was with my kid at any given time or not, I would approve of a tremendous number of useful activities that would be valuable to their intellectual, physical and/or emotional growth while being properly compatible with my own child's particular interests and talents and prefer him doing such activities rather than memorizing so-called-facts and formulas to be regurgitated at exams and then promptly forgotten.

Memories of my own school experiences are of limited relevance, yes, given the time lapse and the inherent dysfunction of human memory, however those memories are dismal enough in terms of what I now regard as an unenlightened misguided curriculum that I can not possibly today generate enough confidence in the Ontario Board of Education to surrender a young human being to their clutches for any more than the 6-hour-per-day sentence imposed by law. What's that? About 15,000 hours through to grade 12? That's somewhere in the neighborhood of a multiple murder conviction, isn't it?

I was surprised at the teacher's reaction. Her own kids, considered "good" kids and disciplined kids by any normal standards, habitually arrive home from school and promptly complete their homework without being asked. Despite that pleasant fact, she is not a fan of homework herself. In her view, as a teacher, homework is a way to give better grades to the students whose parents do their homework for them and punish those whose parents don't. Apparently the cheaters get away with it but without fooling anyone.

As a child and teenager myself, I almost never did my homework and almost never studied for exams. Thus in high school I scored terrible marks for projects and exams but still scored decent grades by acing quizzes and tests. I had all kinds of difficult issues growing up and I got through it all by playing sports, reading novels and engaging myself in a great host of imaginative pursuits. Had I given up a lot of those experiences by doing homework instead I have no doubt I'd have grown up a sadder, less intelligent, less enlightened human being and certainly more selfish and less caring; no doubt whatsoever. I also might have grown up less lazy. Oh well. Can't win 'em all.

Granted, all people are unique. My experience may not have been common.

I wonder what "normal" parents do? Do you question this whole idea of homework or do you just assume it is legitimate because you had to do it when you were a kid? I wonder what percentage of parents have gone to visit a school principal and said, "Sorry, dude. But six hours a day is all you get with my kid. I suggest you make the most of it."

I look at kids who are making their way to school carrying giant textbooks and binders in addition to their lunch, musical instrument, gym clothes and what-not and I imagine they're going to live to be 90 given the medical advancements of their generation but spend their last 60 years with broken backs.

Here's an idea for schools: Why don't you teach kids how to carry things without risking bodily harm?

Want another? How about you teach kids how to not let credit cards ruin their lives?

How about you teach them the realities of the global marketplace and how diabolically greedy our society is for mortgaging the earth out from under the feet of the majority of earth's peoples as well as our own doomed descendants?

How about you teach them the difference between truth (experience) and testimony (traditional schooling?)

How about you teach them the most significant of realities; the stunning miraculous rarities of this planet, life itself and the human imagination?

How about you teach them about the most absolutely vital two criteria for finding any truth in life whatsoever: The omnipresence and omnipotence of cause-and-effect and the absolute necessity of the universal perspective (context) in all legitimate thought?

How about you teach them how to think for themselves instead of what to think?

I got a hundred more ideas if you're interested.

And if you are in fact teaching them these things, than I apologize and applaud you. But if not, you're not qualified to be dishing out homework in any household of mine.*

This said, I hope that none of the teachers and principals I know personally will take offence should they read this. They're all thoughtful and caring people who do the best they can given a hell of a challenging task! I don't know how they even find time to sleep.

*The above writer does not actually possess any households. It's the thought that counts!

Saturday, December 03, 2011

Poets versus scientists

With people who I much respect for their courage and intelligence, I sometimes allow subject matter to slip into conversations which I would otherwise keep to myself for the reason that it is useless to introduce testimony which your audience (generally due to strong instincts and weak consciousnesses) will not possibly be open-minded to considering, except just to show off, which I must despise as I know how mortally hopeless it is to be enslaved by ego.

One of these "priveleged" topics is my observation that since the new millenium has arrived, scientists are starting to make discoveries which were already claimed by poets up to 1700 years ago which makes this a potentially epoch-changing time; a time of significant evolution of consciousnes but only if enough people would take notice of it that a succesful movement is generated. So far, there's me.

Some of my cherished associates have asked about this phenomena and deserve a decent answer. The following shall hopefully constitue a good start at the least:

Firstly: By poets I mean, as always, certain individuals, mostly long-dead who in general practiced multiple pursuits, commonly some combination from the pool of poetry, writing, journalism, philosophy, painting, teaching and politics. They are those in particular who have a healthy respect for the power and predominence of humans' "dark side"; that side of our minds which are not known to us consciously, and also for the illusions, flaws and illegitimacies in almost all "normal" thought. And they are those who adhere to strict discipline and integrity and a process of strict logic and reasoning.

Those integral poets I am so far aware of lived anywhere from 50 to 1700 years ago but for one who is still alive today as far as I know and who became my own mentor for a year until I could no longer overlook what I considered problematic flaws in his otherwise excellent work. In my opinion they would include Francesco Petrarch, Dante, St. Augustine, El Greco, Blake, William Cowper, Georges Bernanos and probably Nietzsche and Goethe and certainly Einstein even though he was primarily a theoretical physicist.

Are there more alive today? Almost certainly I predict, but I have so far been unable to discover who and where they are. As for myself, I will not be falsely humble. I consider my own work consistent with that which I've described though without a satisfactory tenacity at least until now. Inherent laziness is something which I currently battle and with significant optimism about the outcome given recent happenings in my life.

What was that? Einstein a poet? In essence, I say yes. In fact, in my view, the nature of the scientist and the true poet are almost precisely the same. They both are in the business of isolating pure truths and by very similar process; the difference in methods being only physical and logistical but having the same purposes and effects.

The fact that poets and scientists seem to have held each other in enmity for many generations; likely only an unfortunate product of ego, seems to have fooled a lot of people into thinking them opposites and left few people around these days who have a healthy respect and keen interest in both contemporary science and ancient poetry.

What have these poets been saying for more than a thousand years that scientists; for the most part neuroligists, are finally able to consolidate (or to discover in their own immodest view)? A full explanation would be impractical here in blog country. I am inclined to summarize:

- That human beings are not what they think they are.
- That human consciousness is largely, if not wholly, illusion. (Let's remember the core meaning of illusion. Not a 'mirage' but a thing seen that is truly there but not in the form which is believed to be seen.)
- That humans are almost entirely enslaved by a superpower.
- That human "feelings" are unworthy of trust; almost always misleading or wrong though we are not prone to discovering them so.
- That societal organizations (governmental, corporate etc.), the way we construct them, are unsustainable; doomed to corruption and failure.
- That almost all human thought and activity are in no way consistent with reality or truth.

Off the top of my head, I'd say those are the highlights.

As one who has explored these issues and many others - all from completely organic exploration and not from subscribing to anyone else's ideas, I can tell you with pristine honesty that the effects of such exploration are vastly life-changing; beyond what you are ready to believe, frankly.

And I can tell you that the problems which arise from just the short list of disguised realities above are profoundly relevant to every corner of human life and arouse extremely real concerns regarding the nature of human life and human society and the prospects for their continued existence in the forms that we know them.

I have explored a tremendous amount of undocumented material over the last six years or so and I adamantly intend to start revealing more of it on this blog with as much regularity, depth and organizational prudence as I can muster. I intend to let the questions of both personal associates and blog-readers help dictate future subject material as was the case above. Thus I should soon tackle a subject that has generated many questions lately; that of illusion. Boy, will that be a doozy...

Thursday, December 01, 2011

The Office of Letters and Light