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I Like To Nap… So Sue Me… Positive Addictions.

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True story …

I spend a lot more time napping and less time reading the news now than before.

Addiction Confession: I used to be a Globe & Mail’aholic and I still consume too much CNN and Chocolate!

I know that Brett Kavanaugh is huge in the news, but what can I do other than watch the children give each other bloody noses in the government schoolyard? Will my observing make a change? I think not.

I know that Trump thinks that Canada and Justin Trudeau are being nasty and unfair in trade negotiations … SAD… (boo hoo donald… you don’t even deserve to be capitalized a**hole). Will my opinions be the butterfly-wing flapping that miraculously changes the tide of trade? I think not.

I know that drinking lots of lattes will/won’t give me cancer, heart disease, impotence, flatulence, and the inherent ability to speak Italiano. Will quaffing less caffeine improve my quality and quantity of life? I think not.

I know that my Hamilton Tiger Cats football team (BTW, the Tiger Cats were a “question” to a Jeopardy answer this week!) will struggle to win their game against BC this weekend, but will my cheers tip the scale in their favour? OK, on this one I think I can have a positive effect! (Last minute UPDATE: Hamilton 40 – BC 10… I’m right!)

Chocolate and Tiger Cats are addictions that will sizzle along with me as they slide my chilled corpse into the crematorium chamber.

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Football AND chocolate donut… OMG!!

The point I’m going after this morning – and I think I do have a point – is the old “don’t read/watch the news” … be the one to “create the news“.

News noun vs News verb.

I’ll never write AI code. I’ll never run a successful entrepreneurial company. I’ll never win an Olympic medal. I’ll never cure Ebola or Irritable Bowel Disease.

But that doesn’t mean I, nor you, should despair. Nope.

A human being’s success isn’t always measured in the millions or billions, like McDonalds’ hamburgers. One or two great burgers can be life changing.

A lot of our personal victories can be counted on our fingers and toes. A lot of success needs a telescope or microscope to recognize.

Creating the news can be a small-scale operation like those mini-loans operations in Third World countries that give women opportunities to be courageous and self-sufficient.

Saving … improving… the world can be intimidating. It looks like too big a bite for most of us “non-lions”. It’s like a huge tsunami wave coming at you, perhaps a giant skyscraper tumbling over you, crashing in a monstrous wave.

Disaster.

But step away, go a kilometre or two inland and that terrifying tsunami shrinks into a gentle manageable wave that pushes and tugs at our fragile knees and toes but allows us to stay upright and do the job we want to accomplish … to stand and be counted as making something happen.

To be the news verb and not the news noun.

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Did I mention naps?

Can naps be labelled an addiction?

People get confused when I say “I need a nap“. They think I’m hip and 21st century-cool saying, “I need an app“. But I’m not cool.

Doesn’t matter. Naps are an important part of my “create the news” plan.

Sleep is my creative bliss time… I often do more productivity-wise with my eyes closed than open.

Sleep and nap time are where the old sub-conscious puts on its big boy pants and goes to work.

The challenges of navigation through difficult music passages, new blog ideas, personality frictions, altered approaches to tutoring… they all hatch on the nap front.

All of the thought and planning personnel needed to make good stuff happen for me is sitting down restlessly, yet patiently waiting… patiently waiting in the inner office of my mind.

They’re sipping lattes, eating donuts and cinnamon buns – where’s the fresh fruit? – and chattering quietly but the meeting hasn’t been called to order yet.

At this point, I stand up and leave the room (nap).

They don’t appreciate me watching over them, so I happily vacate the space and away they go. Suddenly, the buzz in the room takes on a spirited youthful energy and life as the zzzz‘s emanating from me in the outer office increase in intensity.

Twenty minutes or half an hour later, I stir back to the surface, wipe away the sloppy drool at the corner of my mouth, then open the office door.

I rub my eyes as my faithful representative at the adjourned meeting gives me a synopsis and plan based on the group’s deliberations.

Answers and remedies and focussed ideas flow on broad rivers that were filled as I snored. BEAUTY!

It’s a pretty great day when not only can news be a verb in our lives, but so too can the power of napping transform into a verb… ACTION.

The morning is morphing closer to an afternoon and I can feel the zeal and energy slowly drain, like thick syrup, from my head and my fingertips.

I’ve been typing away here for a few hours.

Thanks for joining me in this sunrise to high noon journey.

I can now go forward in my day and make that news verb a reality, but…

… only after I’ve grabbed a quick nap… such a terrible addiction!

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Rain… Fall… Food

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Thick, juicy plums of rain are falling on the grass surrounding the towering Ponderosa Pines outside my window. Incessant… drop… glop… plop…

The overnight stream has brought out a mass congregation of nasty Flickers and Starlings that terrorize the songbird woodhouses and my peoplehouse with their stabbing sword-beaks.

Their frontal assault began at first light and may not diminish until the first chirpy sounds of evening crickets begin their nightly symphony.

A solo humpty-dumpty magpie causes a large limb to dip and sway like an ocean liner in a sea swell as orchardist neighbour Devon roars past on his space-age enclosed tractor, sending up a fine cloud of misty rainspray .

This combination of rain and the official commencement of fall (I prefer the word AUTUMN – “fall” makes me envision little elder ladies on city streets tumbling to the sidewalk beside their unsteady walkers) trains my eyes inshore, into the ovenly warmth of the bright, now inviting kitchen.

Hot summer kitchens are best used for short social visits, the throwing together of light airy salads and icy slushed drinks – then rushed to the outside patio for immersion in the sounds and perfume of summer.

Fresh, citrus-laced lettuces, spinach, and juicy grape tomatoes generously layered with light amber olive oil and feta… ahhhhhh …. yes, I already lament the dwindle of summer, even a campfire-scented smoky one like this year’s in the Okanagan Valley.

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But, let’s return to the autumn kitchen… inviting and open-arms ready for laughter and aroma, thin and thick sauce lines, slipping from summer gewurtztraminers into more autumn’ish pinot noirs, drawing us inside the world of culinary dance, the friendly tangle of spice upon spice, gossamer walls of taste…

My autumn and winter kitchen revolves on a daily basis around a global trail of flavour.

I was raised in a WASP’y home of routine Friday evening bacon and eggs, Sunday roast beef and oven-browned potatoes. Ham and scalloped potatoes, meatloaf, shepherd’s pie.

One flag flew over our repasts and it was the stolid Union Jack. Hail Brittanica!

Today, multi-toned flags are drawn down each evening, changed, and raised anew each day in my kitchen. The Maple Leaf and the Union Jack are mere temporary apparitions, akin to AirBnB guests.

My restless taste buds, like Anthony Bourdain’s culinary travels, wander the continents and back alleys of dusty towns.

The thought of some routines is comforting, but when it comes to food choices, I crave a unique flavour palette each day that doesn’t come back around for at least a week, preferably longer.

The decision gets harder and harder in recent years as more and more ethnicities contribute to the menu board. A short 20 years ago, I wouldn’t have dreamed of my home floating with the scents of:

  • Morocco
  • Peru
  • Nicaragua
  • Korea
  • Cuba
  • Thailand
  • Syria

And yet, here I have this autumn, a cupboard jammed with spices, sauces, grains and noodles whose names I can barely pronounce.

In my younger days, my international standards were “exotic” French Onion Soup and Italian Lasagna. A pinch or two of oregano, basil, garlic and thyme were sufficient spicing for these delicacies.

I saw myself as a crazily adventurous cook when I prepared an Indian Lamb Rogan Josh, Mexican Chorizo Frittata con Queso, Spanish Paella Valenciana.

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My 1960’s family would have thought we were living in a Back to the Future world if presented with these nose-bombing dishes. Eyes widened in a disbelieving shock and awe. I would be playing Marty McFly in real life. Cue Huey Lewis & The News…

But here we are in the 2010’s and the local horn-of-plenty is literally overflowing with pungency and aromatic bouquet beyond belief.

What does Martha Stewart say again? And that’s a good thing!

Of course there is a down side to this cornucopia.

Having a wide range of ingredients and spice combinations as well as the decision of including meat protein or running the vegan road, makes choosing a dish du jour über challenging.

So, whether it becomes Beef Vindaloo, Indio Viejo, Sushi, Falafel, Moros y Cristianos, Lomo Saltado, Bibimbap, Vegetable Tajine, Perogies, or Tourtière just don’t matter a wit. The end result is always (OK, usually!) a thrilling delicacy of flavours.

When the drizzles, showers or torrents of water descend from the September or October heavens and the daylight grows smaller, it just feels saintly to cocoon and welcome a sliver of some other culture into my kitchen.

You could spend thousands of dollars to jet to the culinary locale of choice… get the full adventure… or go the budget route and knock the price down to a mere few bucks. And for that handful of moments, experience the backstreets of Delhi or Cusco or Casablanca in the heady scents emanating from your oven.

So yeah, so long summer … bring on those autumn rains!

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Arrogant Earworms

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I want to scream until blood gushes from my eye sockets.

In the movie STAR TREK II: The Wrath of Khan (which we saw at a Prince Edward Island Drive-In theatre in 1982), there is an earworm scene.

As part of his plot, the villain Khan (Ricardo Montalban… good to the last drop) introduces us to his household pet: a loathsome, slug-like creature called a Ceti Eel.

You see, their young enter through the ears and wrap themselves around the cerebral cortex. This has the effect of rendering the victim extremely susceptible to suggestion… Later, as they grow, follows madness and death…”

I don’t remember a thing about the movie other than this repulsive scream scene that sticks in my head like a Chinese finger trap.

I suppose you could say it’s become a visual eyeworm about an earworm.

The good news is that I don’t usually scream (there is one exception, the cliffhanger will be resolved below) when I’m infected with a musical earworm.

Most earworms – those snippets of music that refuse to go home when they’re told –  are a trivial annoyance, although there are occasions when they can be a pleasurable repetition inside our heads.

I’ll admit I cringe and throw up a little in my mouth when I’m contaminated by incessant YMCA or Chicken Dance song scraps, unless … I’m thoroughly ensconced in a Molson or Smirnoff haze. Then it’s Dance Fever! You too?

Earworms come in lots of flavours.

Commercial jingles are the bane of the earworm world.

Successful jingle writers know they can plant their flag at the pinnacle when the ditty they penned is hummed by millions of office and factory workers for many years afterwards…

  • “I am stuck on …”
  • “I wish I were an …”
  • “Double Your Pleasure, Double Your Fun …”
  • “Meow, meow, meow, meow …”
  • “Plop plop, fizz fizz …”
  • “Like a good neighbour …”
  • “I’d like to buy the world a …”

Notice how I didn’t complete the jingles as a test to see if you could figure out the product being advertised? Pass or Fail?

Yes, most of these are oldies, but knowing that they’re from decades past and I’m still consciously aware of them tells me just how juicy the jingles are.

The earworms I love are catchy songs like Tommy Tutone’s 867-5309, whistling Bobby McFerrin’s Don’t Worry, Be Happy, Pharrell Williams’ Happy, The Proclaimers’ 500 Miles.(who doesn’t love the word Havering?).

I don’t even mind Meghan Trainor’s All About That Bass, that Psy guy’s Gangnam Style or Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance Rah-rah-ah-ah-ah-ah

They’re all fun and bring a smile to my face.

 

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I chuckle out loud when I get the anti-vegan Arrogant Worm song, Carrot Juice is Murder jammed in my head….  Carrot Juice constitutes murder (and that’s a real crime)
Greenhouses prisons for slaves (let my vegetables grow)…

But understand that not all earworms are fun and games.

Earworms that aren’t joyous or cute but make the tenderness of melancholy so very sweet are the violin theme from Schindler’s List and the sad saxophone strains from the movie, Summer of ’42. They impart a late night ache inside me that inexplicably soothes.

My all-time favourite?

I carry a soft space of wonder for Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody . The opening harmony lines :

Is this the real life?
Is this just fantasy?
Caught in a landslide
No escape from reality

… gets caught in the sugary spiderwebs inside my head.

I’m in a universe of awe when I contemplate how the song – a modern symphony, with so many intricate movements – was ever constructed by Freddie Mercury.

Bohemian

OK, finally… worst of the worst earworms. Scream worthy! Ceti Eel screamworthy?

Drum roll please …..

Boney M. Anything by Boney M.

Top of the exasperation list? Mary’s Boy Child, Rasputin and Rivers of Babylon.

Even writing the names of these songs and I’m holding back a torrent of stomach contents. And of course, now I have this electronic buzz reverberating through my skull… NOOOOoooooooooo……

Hark now hear the angels sing, a king was born today
And man will live for evermore, because of Christmas Day …

Earworm … BAD

Earworm … GOOD

In the end, isn’t any earworm playing through your head better than a disgruntled voice telling you at 2 am how you could have handled such and such a situation better? Or, what you should have said as a smart retort to a nasty comment directed your way?

Of course. And much much better than a Ceti Eel earworm slipping slyly into your ear canal.

I’d even take Boney M over that.

(Care to share your favs or detests?… I’m all ears…)

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I’ve Got A Peaceful Easy Feeling…

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Never won a lottery. NOPE!

Never been to Vegas. Never been asked out by a Victoria’s Secret lingerie model.

So how do I know I’m one of the luckiest guys ever in human existence? Well, lots of reasons but near the top, a mere stone’s throw from the hoodoo peak?

I’ve never once been asked … or tempted… or coerced… to go to WAR.

Never had to defend my home or wife or children with a weapon, other than a flyswatter.

NOT. ONCE. EVER.

In the thousands of years of humanity insanity, how many men can say this? They could almost fit into a historic-timeline broom closet (if the closet was as big as Vancouver Island).

My Ontario childhood was idyllic – riding my banana seat bike with the high handlebars through sprinklers, playing with bugs in the cool grass beneath a huge leafy chestnut tree, licking the drips from orange and grape popsicles, slipping folded newspapers beneath my pant legs for shin protection on the backyard hockey rink my Mom stayed up late to make.

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Armed conflict was a hazy cloud in the rearview mirror… but the memory of recent European battles played a part in my juvenile play.

Yes, I played war with my little buddies. We’d fashion guns out of broken hockey sticks and broom handles to run and shoot and hide… Bang bang, you’re dead (… no I’m not, you missed me!).

GI Joe was a toy superhero.

But I never heard the heart-stopping pounding of exploding mortar shells, the sight of goose-stepping soldiers on my city’s streets, saw the tears of a classmate whose family had just received a telegram from the War Office.

In my earliest youth, war was entertainment.

I’ve watched TV, gone to movie theatres where I’ve munched popcorn, viewing countless masses slaughtered senselessly. Brave, heroic actors shooting pretend guns.

Much of this was what we label “entertainment”.

How is killing others entertainment?

Two of my favourite movies of all time are Schindler’s List and Platoon. Gruesome, vivid stories of World War II and Vietnam. 

Beautiful cinematography, powerful narratives, filled with intense scenes that show me the emotional terror and panic everyday people endured.

Both scared the shit out of me.

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That’s what “real” war movies should do.

War isn’t really John Wayne romantic. War is horror. War kills literally and figuratively (how many vets return home dead inside?).

These were horror movies far scarier than Freddie Kruger and Hannibal Lecter and Chucky combined, because they were (reasonably) accurate portrayals of the misery and wretched fear we naturally feel when confronted with our blood and brains splattered, bowels hanging loose from a belly opened wide like a peeled orange. Screams of pain and cries for Mommy.

When I watch a real war movie, I don’t do it for two hours of fun leisure time like I usually do at the theatre.

I do it as a reminder of the harsh cruelty we are capable of inflicting on one another.

I do it as a time of internal reflection on what armed conflict does to children and families and towns and countries. Orphans and refugees.

I do it as a mental prompt of the efficiency of weaponry and how it shreds a fragile human body like a meat grinder.

I do it as a message to myself to vote for stolid politicians who have the mature judgment and intelligence to work towards peace. One of my most important jobs, to secure the future for the faces of the generations that will follow me, is to select wisely with foresight.

I’ve perhaps not been more aware of my lifetime good fortune than since I began tutoring a young Syrian man. Forced to flee with his family from his home and homeland, his life has suffered huge turmoil. And still he smiles. He’s a gentle man.

He did nothing to deserve the upheaval that came his way. He merely made the mistake of being born in a chaotic region of the world, whereas I made the unintended happy blunder of taking my first breath in a Shangri-la.

War has been his experience, no movie scenes needed for him to feel the terror.

My eyes are open but I have hope.

The peace dividend paid to me in my life has been the greatest ROI (Return on Investment) to which I never had to contribute a cent of my personal fortune.

Simply put, this peace dividend will only increase over time as education standards rise worldwide and women have more power and influence in the running of the world.

Shorter term blips of worry occur the same as they do in stock markets, but the long term trend is always promising.

It’s often said that children are our future. Yes, true. But my firm belief is that women are really our future. Decision-making by women is and will make this planet a safer place.

I don’t buy lottery tickets. No Victoria’s Secret model will ever ask me out. Yada yada yada…

I’m just a lucky guy who still harbours a peaceful easy feeling.

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Why is Simple So Hard? E-Mail Hell…

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From: Larry Green
Sent: Sunday, September 2, 2018 06:01 AM
To: Donald J. Trump
Subject: Re: FAKE E-Mails

 

Fake e-mail

What?

I get an e-mail from a friend, relative, or acquaintance at least once a week that is unintelligible. Clipp. Incomple. Non-sensi…

This week I got two in one day.

I’m gonna vent here because … well… maybe because I’m worn down by the smoky haze that hotly raging forest fires have inflicted on this valley for the month of August… or …

… maybe just because I’m sad that summer is winding up already and I’ve barely managed to swim in Okanagan Lake 3 or 4 times.

The trout are sending me soggy letters telling me they miss me.

When I was a young grasshopper, my English teachers pounded into my head the idea … the notion … that when you communicate with anyone, whether written or spoken, you need to remember your 5 W’s and H. Right?

Standard, journalistic stuff. Grammar gold nuggets.

And, if YOU don’t understand the 5 W’s and an H, then you’re probably on my “GD Frustrating Communicators” list.

OK… the 5 W’s are Who, What, Where, Why and When… the H is How.

Yes, I get impatient. Please shoot me in a few years if I start making remakes of Grumpy Old Men. 

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Like many of you out there, I know that there are only so many hours in a day and I want to travel somewhere stunning and exotic in my existence.

Truthfully, I waste a lot of time. My head likes nothing better than to float in the clouds, a lazy glider dipsy-doodling in the updrafts of invisible feathers.

And… if I get to the end of my day… and I feel like I’ve taken even a baby step forward, maybe a tiny 1% improvement in some area of my life, well…  I sleep better.

So, when folks send me an e-mail that’s supposed to help me along in my travels, I don’t want to be stuck in an airport holding lounge because they didn’t take the time or manufacture the thought energy to be clear in what they are saying.

You’re squandering my raindrops of time. Let me fly!

I know you have a wide-open prairie landscape of background and context inside your head, so please open up like a spring wheat kernel and share it with me, OK?

Right, an example.

This week, I got this e-mail from a friend (who hopefully doesn’t read my blog posts!) I play guitar and sing with sometimes:

Well it looks like this Friday night is back on at the request of the Widow …won’t be here 2 weeks down the line.. I’m not really ready for Right Down the Line yet Larry so if you are coming to play this week do your own stuff if not we’ll do it together in two weeks.

OK. Weird grammar aside (I accept punctuation and spelling gaffes in e-mails) I’m scratching my head wondering what’s wrong with me… like,

  1. Who the hell is the “Widow”?
  2. And, who won’t be there in 2 weeks, you or the “Widow”?

Is this message supposed to be encrypted in code so some crazed Nazi won’t intercept and lay waste to the earth?

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Author Ursula le Guin :

two people talking, form a community of two. People are also able to form communities of many, through sending and receiving bits of ourselves and others back and forth continually — through, in other words, talking and listening. Talking and listening are ultimately the same thing.

When you talk (write) to me, we both need to touch… feel… taste… the meaning and emotion of the communication dance. 1,2,3…1,2,3…

A good dance partner is clear in communicating the motion, whether giving or receiving.

Ginger always knew that Fred would be coherent and definite, Fred always knew that Ginger was conveying an equally clear response (even when dancing backwards in high heels!)

I write for a whole host of reasons, some selfish, some altruistic.

I write because words and language are ravishing and elegant and sexy.

I write because I want to understand.

I write because I want to communicate and be understood.

An e-mail message surely shouldn’t be a jigsaw puzzle of jumbled, mismatched pieces that I can’t decipher.

Bottom line…

• Who? All of us. Me included.

• What? Write an e-mail where I can understand your meaning and emotional direction.

• Where? Anywhere. Isn’t e-mail fantastic that way?

• When? All day, everyday.

• Why? So I don’t misunderstand and read your words through my own crazy, warped filter.

• How? Easy. Remember and use your high school 5W’s and H! Voilà!

Simple and yet so hard it seems.

No FAKE News or E-mails here.

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