Sunday, January 31, 2010

Beam Me Up...!

Time Magazine recently listed the 50 best inventions of 2009. Among them are a $10 million light bulb, a $20 knee, a bladeless fan, dandelion rubber, a human powered vending machine, an edible race car, a 3-D camera, Tweeting by thinking (huh?), the Handyman's X-ray vision, and my favorite -- teleportation. Yes! Now, that's one I like. Can you imagine? It's Sunday afternoon, you're looking for something to do -- perhaps somewhere to go for the afternoon. You sit back in your big cozy chair, close your eyes, and teleport yourself to any destination in the world. Want to visit the Louvre for the afternoon? *Poof* you're there. Have a friend you'd like to visit? "Beam me up."

Or perhaps you're having friends over for dinner, and you want to surprise them with your culinary delights. You could log onto Maxim's Restaurant in Paris, and download lobster salad on a bed of asparagus, with mixed baby greens and balsamic vinaigrette, a filet of beef with Périgueux sauce, baby vegetables in their own juice with peas and "Pommes Maxim", and a raspberry napoleon for dessert. Would your guests be impressed? Oh, goodness yes. Your guests could imbibe in all sorts of wonderful wines and liqueurs because they wouldn't have to worry about driving home afterwards. They would just step into the teleportation machine, et voila!, they are safe at home. And afterwards you could teleport the folks from Molly Maid over to do the clean-up. Is that a perfect world or what? Why has it taken so long to invent teleportation? How have we lived without it for so long?

If you could teleport yourself to any place in the world -- right now -- where would it be?


Friday, January 29, 2010

And The Mukmuk Goes To...!

After much deliberation picking the name out of a hat, my next door neighbor, Beth, has made her choice as to the winner of this much coveted almost-mascot to the 2010 Winter Olympics.

Drumroll please...

And the winner is -- Katy from the blog What a Great Place to be a Cow...! Katy has a fabulous blog, by the way, and is a wonderful writer. I love to find new blogs, and in particular blogs that are well-written and entertaining. Katy's blog is all of those things and more.

I had not intended this silly little contest to be a promotion of other blogs, but it so happens by chance that I have discovered quite a few blogs lately that are fabulous, and for some strange they don't get as much traffic as some other blogs -- they have not yet been discoved by the world. Often the blogs that are -- in my humble opinion -- absolutely fabulous, have a quieter activity than some of the others. Again, this is just my opinion, and it is all subjective, isn't it? There is no rhyme nor reason... Occasionally I would like to direct folks to those blogs. Now, I'm not assuming I am qualified to judge, because -- really -- are any of us qualified to judge whose posts or blogs are "good, gooder, goodest"? *heh* So it would be my opinion only, and you folks can judge for yourselves.

I have always been rather partial to Peppermint Patty in the Peanuts cartoons, so I have chosen her to pick the blogs I like. My her choices will not be on a regular basis such as weekly, monthly, or whatever, but as I she happens to find them. Often I find a new blog by someone posting a comment here, and then I click back to visit them, et voila! Yesterday I found another fabulous blog called "Everyday People". My goodness, Susan can write! Where have these folks been hiding? So if you happen to be looking for a new blogging experience, please check out Katy and Susan's blogs. Peppermint Patty and I have so many more wonderful blogs to suggest, but at the moment we will leave that for another day.

And congratulations to Katy for winning the much sought-after almost-mascot, Mukmuk.


On What Occasion Do You Lie...?

How often do you lie? Tell the truth now, how often to you occasionally tell a little white fib? I watched a movie the other night with Ricky Gervais and Jennifer Garner called "The Invention of Lying". It took place in a world where lying and deception were completely unknown. Everyone told the truth, and everyone else believed them. A fellow was driving while drunk -- absolutely inebriated -- and he was pulled over by an unruly police officer. His friend in the car with him, Mark, (Ricky Gervais) stepped outside the car and said,

"Officer, this man is not drunk."

"He isn't? Oh, goodness, sir, my apologies. I thought you were drunk..."

The police officer believed Mark because lying was unheard of -- ever. Mark had invented lying. (And yes, when they got back into the car, Mark drove.)

Can you imagine what a dull world it would be without lying? There would be no fiction, no art, everything would be what you see is what you get. In Mark's world, he was a screen writer, but there were no movies, only incredibly boring lectures of the truth.

We have all told fibs on occasion, sometimes to save our own skin, and sometimes to save other folks. I have always believed that lying is not necessarily a bad thing, especially if it is used to protect someone else's feelings. We cannot always admit to someone that their new dress makes them look fat, or that the watery, gristly beef stew they cooked is horrible.

"Yum, this is delicious."

What purpose does it serve to be brutally honest in instances like that? Do you think God would be mad at us if we have actually spared someone else pain? I don't think so. That is a whole different type of duplicity than the type used for our own gain -- monetary or otherwise.

In "The Invention of Lying", Mark invented lying as a tool for kindness, and it worked. He made people feel incredibly happy, just by telling them "little white fibs". I think all of us have done that at some point in our lives, and when it works, it actually makes us feel good too. We have eased someone else's life in just the smallest way. Truth can often be unnecessarily brutal.

On what occasion do you lie fib?

(The winner of the almost-mascot from my previous post will be announced Saturday morning...)

Thursday, January 28, 2010

What On Earth Are These?

Vancouver is starting to feel and look like a city that is hosting the Winter Olympics. You know -- the usual -- there are all sorts of traffic closures, construction sites are being cleaned up, buildings have new facades. Art work is springing up in all the plazas. I think it's actually going to be a lot of fun, and I am looking forward to the festivities. I took a few pictures today of some sculptures at the corner of Georgia and Granville. Your mission, should you choose to accept it, is to try to figure out what they are. But your guess is as good as mine. I have no idea what they are.

Just to make it fun, the person who comes up with the best suggestions as to what these things are, will win a priceless, one of a kind, almost-mascot called Mukmuk. He's not actually a mascot, but he's a sidekick to the mascots. How sad is that? Apparently he enjoys surprising his friends by popping in on occasion. He's a rare Vancouver Island marmot (Marmota vancouverensis), his name comes from from the Squamish word for food — muckamuck — because he loves to eat, and he's related to the rare whistling marmots on Whistler Mountain. I'm not making this up. Do you think I would make this up? Anyway, the decision will be made by the astute panel of judge, my next-door-neighbor, Beth. The winning entry will be chosen on Friday. Why am I giving away this rare, coveted prize you ask? Well, because I happen to have one, and I don't want it. It's actually kind of cute, but I really don't blame you if you don't want it either...


Wednesday, January 27, 2010

The Reunion

A group of 40 year-old buddies get together and discuss where they should meet for dinner. Finally it is agreed that they should meet at the Gasthof zum Löwen restaurant because the waitresses there have low cut blouses and nice breasts.

Ten years later, at 50 years of age the group meets again, and once again they discuss where they should meet. Finally it is agreed that they should meet at the Gasthof zum Löwen because the food and the wine selection there is very good.

Ten years later at 60 years of age the group meets again, and once again they discuss where they should meet. Finally it is agreed that they should meet at the Gasthof zum Löwen because they can eat there in peace and quiet, and the restaurant is smoke-free.

Ten years later, at 70 years of age the group meets again, and once again they discuss where they should meet. Finally it is agreed that they should meet at the Gasthof zum Löwen because the restaurant is wheelchair accessible and they have an elevator.

Ten years later, at 80 years of age the group meets again, and once again they discuss where they should meet. Finally it is agreed that they should meet at the Gasthof zum Löwen because they have never been there before.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Unable To Process Comments...?

It was so much fun reading all your responses to my recent post, "What are you wearing?" You know, it gives me a much better picture, and I can visualize all of you as people, rather than just avatars. You actually have bodies (clothed ones) below your necks, and comfy clothes. And it gives me a idea of where you are when you blog. It's wonderful to get a better idea of my blog friends! You're real people -- just like me...! And, there are several new and fabulous blogs that have come into the blogosphere recently. Last night I tried to visit many of them and post comments, however, I was unable to post comments on most of the blogs that have their comments boxes set up as "embedded below post". I think you folks may be losing a lot of comments. What happens is, people post their comments, and then the page flips to the top of the post. If the commenters do happen to scoll back down, they will see their comments did not post, and they might get a prompt that says,

"Your request could not be processed. Please try again."

However, if the commenters have flipped to the top of the page and do not scroll back down to see that their comments did not publish, they will leave your blog not knowing you did not receive their comments.

The solution to this problem is very easy. Instead of having your comments box set up in the format that is called "embedded below post", like this:

You can change it to the setup which is called "full page", like this.

If you want to change your comment settings, go into the dashboard, into "Settings" "Comments" and next to "Comment Form Placement" change it to "Full Page". You will find you will receive many more comments than you are receiving now.

Unless you have a really controversial blog -- which most of us don't -- it's always a good idea to make it as easy as possible for your readers to post comments. "Word verification" and "comment approval" -- unless absolutely necessary -- are not usually a good idea. It's like having a welcome mat at your front door that says, "Thank you for visiting, now please go away..." None of us wants that.

I hope to be able to visit you all, as soon as I am able to post comments.


Monday, January 25, 2010

What Are You Wearing?

Tonight when I came home from work, I walked around to all my windows closing the blinds, and I happened to glance across the courtyard at the man in the next building. His blinds were wide open, he was sitting at his computer, and he was nekkid. I have seen him sitting at his computer many times before, but I have never seen him without his clothes on. It was a frightening experience, to say the least. I felt a bit like James Stewart in "Rear Window". I wonder if people have any idea that we can see right in to the very privacy of their lives, when their blinds are open and their lights are on. It's one intrusion I don't wish to make. Most people actually do look better with their clothes on, truth be told.

It occurred to me then, that most of us sit in front of our computers, reading blogs, e-mailing our friends, reading CNN and other websites, perhaps working on a project for work, and we are definitely wearing something that is -- shall we say -- comfortable. We can have close communication with dozens of people, and no one can see us. Thank goodness. So I am curious, as you sit there now reading my boring-little blog, what are you wearing? Enquiring minds what to know. Are you comfortable? Are you nekkid? Oh, that sounds sort of kinky, doesn't it? But really, what are you wearing? Do you remember the "come-as-you-are" parties, where people would telephone you with an invitation late at night, or early in the morning, and you had to attend the party just exactly as you were when you received the invitation? If anyone were to phone me right now and invite me to a "come-as-you-are" party, they would be in for a h*ll of a shock.

"What are those things you have on your feet? And what have you done to your hair? And what is that you're wearing?"

What are you wearing? Enquiring minds want to know.


Sunday, January 24, 2010

Lima Beans And Love

Mother and Daughter
Lucien-Philippe Moretti (French)

When I was a little girl, I hated lima beans. My mother would cook them, and everyone else would eat them except me. I couldn't stand the texture of them, and I would leave them on my plate. One summer evening my mother got very angry, and she made me sit at the table until I had eaten every bean. The other kids were outside playing and I was sitting at the table, glumly looking at the unappealing little pile of pale green legumes that were staring back at me.

"Go ahead... eat us... we dare ya...!"

My mother and I finally came to a compromise, and I was allowed to go outside and play if I ate half the beans. But, the only way I could bear to eat them was to peel them, so I very carefully peeled every bean, ate the insides, and left the little pile of bean skins on the corner of my plate. The only problem is, this process took so long that by the time I was finished, the sun had set. My mother was determined and I was stubborn. Neither one of us won the stand-off, and from that day forward, the very sight of lima beans would make me gag.

Yesterday while I was grocery shopping, I found myself putting a bag of lima beans into my cart. What's this? What am I doing? Well, I thought, what harm could there be in trying them? So this evening I decided to cook the lima beans. I took them out of the refrigerator, and I heard myself saying, "Well, Mom, will you take a look at this. I'm cooking lima beans -- voluntarily -- and I'm going to eat them..." At that moment I could smell my mother's Chanel No. 5 perfume, and I heard her distinctive laugh. "Noooooo...!" she said as she laughed.

I don't believe in ghosts, but at that moment my mother was right there in my kitchen with me, as though she were in corporal form, and I laughed with her. It was as if we were both remembering that summer evening years ago, and the lima beans, and for a few minutes we shared that moment again.

As we zip back and forth through time, I wonder if we realize the small events in our lives that will bind us to the people we love. I think I will always have a fondness for lima beans now. And yes, I ate the lima beans, and they were delicious.


19 Days And Counting...

I don't normally post photos on my blog, but the sunrise looked so pretty through the skeletons of the trees, I snapped this photo this morning. In just 19 days the XXI Olympic Winter Games will begin here in Vancouver. I am one of the few people who actualy seems to be excited about this amazing event being held here. Most of us have very few chances in life to experience a world-wide event. I have always been one of those people who enjoys being in the middle of an exhilarating experience. One of the things on my list that I would love to do one day is to attend New Year's Eve in Time's Square, New York City. We can choose to spend our lives sitting on the sidelines, being spectators, or we can choose to participate in life. At the end of the day, we should have no regrets -- coulda, woulda, shoulda. Bring it on...!

A large aspect of the Winter Olympics will be the wonderful cultural events from January 22 to March 21, featuring the best artists and musicians from Canada and around the world. There will be dozens of events every day, and the kick off today will feature Canada's own Joni Mitchell. Starting on February 4th there will be a spectacular laser light show over English Bay. 20 robotic searchlights will create a canopy of light in the night sky above and on the surface of English Bay below with designs created by people around the world and delivered via the Internet. Called Vectorial Elevation, it is the first time this work of art will be displayed in Canada and over a body of water. The installation - considered one of the world's largest interactive artworks - is by Canadian artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and is part of CODE, the Cultural Olympiad's Digital Edition. The 10,000-watt lights will move and create patterns silently from locations in Vanier Park and Sunset Beach that cover an area of 100,000 square metres and be visible within 15 kilometres of the city's downtown core, stretching to Richmond, Cypress and Grouse mountains and freighters and boats on the water.

Today I plan to see the exhibit of Ansel Adams photographs, which is part of the cultural events starting today. It doesn't get any more exciting than that -- well, except perhaps for Time's Square in New York City on New Year's Eve.

Have a fabulous day, everyone.


Saturday, January 23, 2010

Jo's Reality TV Show

Is it just me, or does this woman scare the crap frighten you too? Where on earth did the producers of the show find her, and how did she figure out be abusive to people and get paid millions of dollars to do it? Do the folks on "The Biggest Loser" really need to be insulted, shouted at and violently mistreated in order to lose weight? Have the producers figured out that this woman adds drama and some sort of a spectacle that would otherwise not be there without her? In the fullness of time, when folks look back at TV history, will this be remembered as television's finest hour?

What does it say about us as a society -- as a civilization -- if this is what we rush home from work to watch every night -- this is what we consider entertainment? Has anyone given any thought to what it might be doing to our brain cells? If some far-fetched conspiracy theorist wanted to come up with a conceivable theory of earth being taken over by aliens, it would be this: first saturate everyone with mind-numbing reality shows, lower the population's IQ points steadily and rapidly over a period of months and years, and then swoop down on the stupified inhabitants of the planet. The targets of the invasion will be so dazed, they'll think it's just another reality show.

TV really bottomed out with the Gosselins, believe me. And it just got worse when their marriage inevitably dissolved, and Jon and Kate became superstars of the entertainment tabloids. The biggest news story a couple of weeks ago was Kate's new hairdo. Can you even imagine? How many brain cells do you think folks lost following that train wreck? Were people challenged to think about anything or to learn anything new? Reality TV is like a drug, it stupifies people, and they can't get enough. They need higher and higher doses in order to get their fix. Well, there's even a reality show for that, with Dr. Drew Pinsky, where we get to watch people we don't even care about -- such as Heidi Fleiss, Mackenzie Phillips and Tom Sizemore -- overcome their addictions. And another 2,000,000 brain cells bite the dust.

Oh, goodness ...

Well, I am off to wash my bathroom and kitchen floors today. If I videotape it and send it to TLC, do you think they'll pay me to put it on TV? "Jo Washes the Bathroom Floor" - a new reality show, tonight at nine. Don't miss it...!

It couldn't possibly be any less boring that everything else folks are watching ... right?


Thursday, January 21, 2010

If It Walks Like A Duck...

I have come to the conclusion that I am not particularly fond of politicians. Well, let’s put it this way, I don’t trust them and I don’t have much faith in them. For the most part many of them do an adequate job, and I suppose the best I could give any of them for their job performance would be a C or a C-. Occasionally there is one who deserves perhaps a C+ or a B, but never an A. No politician in my known memory has ever deserved an A. Perhaps the American Presidents, George Washington and Abraham Lincoln -- in hindsight -- have earned A ratings, but if they were alive today, on close scrutiny would they have earned an A? It would be interesting to find out.

When we are hiring political officials, we go through a lengthy process of interviewing these folks, much in the same way as we would read through résumés, set up interviews, and interview the candidates for a job. And then once we have gone through the interview process, we vet the applicants, we check their references and we hire the individual whom we think is the best for the job. And as with anyone we hire to do a job for us, we expect honesty and transparency during the interview and hiring process. Once they are in the job, we require them to perform to our expectations. Isn’t that supposed to be how it works? What you see is what you get?

So why does it appear that so many elected officials fall short of our expectations. Do we expect too much or too little? What is our option if a candidate lies or misrepresents himself? Why, all of a sudden, do we elevate these folks to a position higher, and accept all their nonsense? We seem to forget the main principle governing people in elected offices -- we are their bosses. We hire them to do a job for us, and we entrust them with our money to do it. It's all ours -- it belongs to us. We hire them to do the job and we pay their salaries, expenses, operating budgets -- everything. It's our money, and they are our employees, and we are their employers -- their bosses. Their fate is in our hands, but somehow we have the misguided idea that it's the other way around. It's not.

I have been reading on so many blogs lately that folks are dissatisfied with their elected officials -- on muncipal, provincial, state and federal levels. Promises have been made that have not been kept, money is misspent, folks have conducted themselves in a manner unbecoming to their elected office -- the Premier of our province was arrested for drunk driving while on vacation in Hawaii, for goodness sake. If people are not happy with their elected officials, they can fire them. Don't re-elect them for another term in office. We are under no obligation to keep inept or corrupt employees. If they're not living up to our expectations, we can boot them out. We don't need to make excuses for them, and we don't need to blame other people. I love the Mafia Sicilian expression "A fish stinks from the head". Whether it's an employee or an elected official, there is always that "ah-ha" moment when we know they are just not going to work out, no matter what stories they told us during the interview. Don't be bamboozled -- get rid of them.


Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Blogger Appreciation Day

Flower Clouds
Odilon Redon

Today is Blogger Appreciation Day. Actually ... no it's not. I just made that up. But I wanted to do a quick little blog post to tell you -- all my blogging friends -- how much I appreciate you. You're all amazing, and I am always so thrilled to log on every day and find your comments on my boring-little posts. You always make me smile, and I am amazed by your intelligence, talents, insight, humor -- and so much more. During the week, I am often too busy to visit my favorite blogs, because when I go to work, my employers actually expect me to concentrate on my job ... can you imagine the nerve of them? And sometimes when I get home in the evenings, the last thing I can possibly do is to sit in front of my computer. So my blogging waits until the weekends, on most weeks.

Vase of Flowers
Odilon Redon

I don't have anything to give away, no awards to bestow, no shout-outs to anyone's posts to show you my appreciation. But I wanted to share with you a couple of paintings done by one of my favorite artists, Odilon Redon. The colors in Odilon Redon's paintings are bright, colorful and what my mother used to call "riotous". It's impossible to look at his paintings without feeling happy. So my little gift to you today is to share some of Redon's paintings. I was going to do a post about the upset of Brown over Coakley in Massachusetts, but considering the amount of trouble my political posts seem to get me into, I thought perhaps I would show some restraint.

On a lighter note, I almost set my house on fire last night, cooking brussel sprouts. Oh, don't ask... Have a fabulous day, everyone, and I'll see you soon.


Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Hangover

I had some difficulty sleeping last night, so I decided to watch a movie. This movie had been highly recommended to me by a certain 14 (almost) year-old Phinnaeus, so I had my reservations. Then Phinnaeus said his mom loved the movie, and Phinnaeus's mom has a great sense of humor -- so I thought I would give the movie a try. Just by coincidence, on Sunday night the movie won the Golden Globe award for best comedy picture. It was also named one of the top ten movies of the year by the American Film Institute, so it had to have something going for it, right? I decided, what the heck ... what do I have to lose if I watch it.

Shocked and appalled doesn't even begin to cover my feelings when I began to watch the movie. It was vulgar, raunchy, perhaps even disgusting, but I stayed with it. A few minutes into the movie I heard a strange loud noise, and I realized it was me -- roaring with laughter. This movie is a train wreck, and I couldn't tear my eyes away from it. At first it feels like the usual stoner, college, frat-boy movie, but the humor and sense of the ridiculous -- while seeming over-the-top -- is actually too subtle and too funny for frat boys. It stars Bradley Cooper, Ed Helms, Zach Galifianakis and Heather Graham, and a cast of other characters, two-footed and four-footed. I'm actually embarrassed to recommend this movie, but I do. Get a big bowl of popcorn, perhaps a beer, and settle down to watch it.

Phil: "Whose baby is that?"
Alan: "I dunno. Check its collar or something."

Oh, goodness...


Monday, January 18, 2010

Pray For Snow...!

Vancouver will be hosting the 2010 Winter Olympics in less than a month, and right now it's more like spring than winter. Last week as I was walking up from the beach, I saw a beautiful peach-colored rosebud, happily blooming next to a garden wall. Many of the shrubs are filled with blooms ready to burst open, and the furniture birds are happily singing their little heads off in the trees. Even the raccoons are starting to lurk about in the trees, waiting for the crows to lay their eggs. What's going on? Folks from around the world who are expecting to come to Canada to find the land of ice and snow, are more likely to see new, fresh growth on the palm trees. Yes, we have palm trees in Vancouver -- lots of them.

Please ... pray for snow...!


She Has A Ticket To Ride ... Not!

If you're planning to come to Vancouver for the 2010 Winter Olympics, here is some good news. Bus and Sky Train transportation around Vancouver is pretty much free. The bus in this picture is one of the many express buses we have in the city. You can see by this photo that the bus has three doors -- one at the front, one in the middle and one at the back -- and people are encouraged to board at all three doors. The only problem is, there is no one to take your money or check your boarding pass. Hundreds of thousands of people ride these buses every day, and hardly anyone ever gets on at the front door. Yesterday I tried an experiment. I boarded the bus at the middle door, along with about a dozen other people. We all sat down, the bus pulled away, I was home in less than ten minutes, and not one single person questioned whether or not I had paid. It was free, gratis. I looked around at the two dozen other people who got on with me, and the four dozen other people who got on at the next two stops, and I tried to calculate in my mind just how much money Translink had lost -- just on that one bus alone.

The same thing applies to the Skytrain. In fact, it's a joke. Translink officials are always wailing and weeping at how much money they lose on Sky Train, and yet there are no turnstiles, and no one on board to check if anyone has paid -- or not -- which is more than often the case. You can zip from Surrey or New Westminster all the way to Vancouver's waterfront on two separate Sky Train lines, or you can come into Vancouver from the Airport, and if you have not paid, the chances are about 99% that no one will know. The Canada Line from the Airport has inspectors at the stations who sort of stand around looking official, but they don't actually check to see if anyone has a ticket. So, again, gratis. Wouldn't you think an organization like Translink -- if they are concerned about losing money -- would tighten these things up a bit? Some things just don't make any sense to me...


Sunday, January 17, 2010

What Is Your Favorite Movie...?

Movie award season has rolled around again, and tonight is the Golden Globes. It will be hosted by Ricky Gervais, so it's guaranteed to be a hoot. And of course, the nominees are all the usual suspects -- Meryl Streep, Helen Mirren, George Clooney ... together with some interesting movies. A friend and I were chatting today about movies, and I said if I were to be asked to name my favorite movie of all time -- without even giving it much thought, just off the top of my head -- it would be a 2002 movie called "Whale Rider". And I can almost guarantee that most of you have either never heard of the movie, or have never seen it. It's an independent movie filmed in New Zealand, taken from the award winning book written by Witi Ihimaera. To quote some of the film critics: "This film is so stunningly beautiful to look at--and such an uplifting story--that you can understand why it has won so many audience awards at festivals all over the world."

"A film of elegant simplicity that seamlessly combines reality and mythology. It's also one of the year's most beautiful films."

Keisha Castle-Hughes, the young lady who played the lead role of Paikea "Pai" Apirana, was 11 years-old when she was cast in the movie. She had not had any previous acting experience, and went straight from her school room to the set of the movie. When "Whale Rider" was completed, the movie was nominated for several awards, including Keisha Castle-Hughes for an Acadamy Award for Best Actress. Her performance as Paikea was astonishing.

"My name is Paikea Apirana, and I come from a long line of chiefs stretching all the way back to the whale rider. I'm not a prophet, but I know that our people will keep going forward, all together, with all of their strength."

"Whale Rider" is billed as a family movie, but it is actually a bit edgy, and not at all "Disneyfied". It deals with several layers of issues with which I think people from all parts of the world can identify, and it deals with them in a humorous rather than a "preachy" manner. It's a visually beautiful movie, and I love the scene where the young men are learning the Maori Haka dance. If you're looking for something really different, something non-Hollywood -- that doesn't have Meryl Streep or George Clooney in it, although I do enjoy Meryl Streep and George Clooney too -- pick up "Whale Rider" at your video store, and be prepared for some movie magic.

I would be interested to know what is your all-time favorite movie -- just off the top of your head -- without really thinking about it. What springs to mind? I'm always looking for different movies to watch.


Saturday, January 16, 2010

Earthquakes and Tsunamis...

Stormy Sea with Blazing Wreck
J.M.W. Turner, 1840

Have you ever wondered why some -- or even most -- of the world's most devastating naturals disasters always happen to the poorest of the poor? The Boxing Day tsunami, the earthquake in Pakistan, Hurricane Katrina, and now the earthquake in Haiti -- all have hit people who are already living in dreadful poverty and pitiable conditions. There is no infrastructure to sustain them and most of them lose whatever meagre possessions they have. Last night I watched as rescuers pulled a little ten-year old girl from underneath the rubble. She was frightened and crying, and the rescuers were obviously deeply distressed by her situation. Unfortunately, the little girl didn't make it, and she died shortly afterwards. She would have been roughly the same age as little Marigold, and my heart broke for the little girl. I wondered where God was in all of this. I want to believe, but sometimes I just don't. And then it occurred to me, that perhaps there is a lesson to be learned from this. We need to start taking care of people before these things happen. Perhaps that is the lesson we need to take from this. We turn a blind eye to the poverty-stricken areas even in our own countries, but it really is within our power to help. Maybe we are being bashed over the head to open our eyes and see these things. I was reading the other day that most people in Haiti live on $2.00 a day. That's less than the price of a daily Starbucks coffee, and goodness knows the world would be a lot better place without yet another stomach-churching Starbucks coffee. Maybe there is more we should be doing. Just a thought, anyway...