Friday, September 21, 2007

Political commentary

I haven't written about politics in a while but with the provincial elections next month and some interesting contentious topics, I thought I'd dabble.

One of the big topics is education. I'll try and net it out...Conservatives want to provide funding for religious based school; Liberals don't want to take money away from current public school funds. Most interesting aspect of this argument is that the Catholic school system is already included in the "public" system but few are really talking about this fact, although the editorial in the Post today did reflect on the hypocrisy because the Liberal leader's family went to Catholic school.

One thing that does become quite clear during election time is the political biases in the press. I read the National Post front pages this morning at home and then picked up the free Metro commuter paper on the subway. Trying to find some reference points about the Post's election blog pages and today's editorials versus the Metro. Quite clear I think.

Another hot topic that came up with a business friend yesterday was the view of the world from the 905 (the greater Toronto area - GTA that surrounds the city of Toronto). I didn't want to argue too much, but definitely felt his animosity toward the big, dirty, money losing city I call home. I could perhaps go deep on this topic, but I'm not sure I have enough hard facts to fight off my Ontario readers who are not Torontonians. Yet.

Politics - trust - money - priorities - local representation - leadership - vision - reality.

Today I'm undecided.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Stranger than Fiction

[Monday] Wonderful movie, loved every minute.

Will Ferrell - amazing how funny he can be while playing a serious role and only smiling a few times in the whole movie.

Maggie Gylllenhall - perfect casting and match for Ferrell; beautiful, sexy and smart.

Hoffman - hilarious dialogue and perspective, brilliant.

Thompson - apart from appearing highly disheveled throughout the movie, still a very appealing character. Her character's blend of twisted perversion, clever story telling and vision seems to sum up the key messages of the movie.

The movie delivered some very valuable life lessons, but did it while disguised as a nice light hearted story.

Hoffman's simplified explanations of literature are fantastic sound bites that I'm hoping I can use at some point to explain or understand my life or those of people around me. Does literature or screenwriting do enough to shed light on our lives, or are there too many elements that fall between the gaps and cannot be so easily explained ?

I'm going to save this as a draft and watch the movie again before giving final reviews and scores.

[Thursday] Lots of
great quotes in the movie, including Eiffel's closing voiceover...and we must remember that all these things, the nuances, the anomalies, the subtleties, which we assume only accessorize our days, are effective for a much larger and nobler cause. They are here to save our lives.

I guess this revisits the old notion that it's all the small little things in life that matter most and make it all worth while. [cross-reference here to the joys of routine -
Very Zen; Routine versus Progress). What are the little things that can make your day and just feel happy to be alive: food; your morning coffee, the feel of the street when you walk to work; watching your children; an embrace with your wife; a shared memory with a friend; writing.

One thread I also really liked was about comedies versus tragedies; and the relative endings (love versus death). What more reason is there to smile, have a laugh and try and approach life's biggest challenges with a sense of humour and a smile. Actually when you think of modern entertainment today, there are rarely just romances these days, they are either romantic comedies (say, portrayed my weird combinations of beautiful women and odd blokes) or tragic lost loves sung by acoustic guitar softies. Perhaps we should try and search out the good stuff in between as they may better relate to the lives of normal folk, like you and me, like this new hit single from Johnny Faith:

We got up in the morning, one grumpy, one a little horney.
Kids were playing difficult again, man, forgot that meeting at 10.
Life flashed by, trains, cars, planes in the clear blue sky.
Little things embraced, personal touches and a long-lasting taste.
What life are you living out ? I hope a comedy !

The movie: definitely a keeper. 9/10. My life: a comedy; appreciated more and more: 9/10.

Routine versus Progress

In a series of deep thoughts this week...

I've been thinking about the old notion that routine is a good thing. We hear about physical routine and exercise, keeping regular waking and sleeping hours, reducing extremes etc - building to the summation that the human mind and body is best suited for regular routine.

Ok, but.

If we can control of desires for constant change or new things, limit new ideas and ways of doing things, not be obsessed with the next big thing, then how does one create progress in one's life ? Don't we need to take new directions often; and venture in many different directions, and constantly experience new things in life to feel we have gotten the most out of our time here ?

Routine can so easily lead to boredom and wasted time.

Sometimes I do like the predictability of certain events and activities in my day and life, and I strive hard to create some pattern of positive ritual (and of course try and eliminate the bad repeated elements -
habits per se). But this aspect and focus of our lives must balance with embracing times of change, enlightenment and adventure.

Idea: create a healthy, rich routine in your life and sprinkle in generous time for reflection, realignment; exploration and unpredictability.

Friday, September 07, 2007

Is it just me ?

I've got one of those argh problems solved (coming up with my own solution), so I've got to get back to work, but before I do...

Is it just me or do I simply have a better memory for people's faces, or is the city just a cold hearted place where no one wants to appear friendly.

A few examples:
  • At Canada's Wonderland last weekend. I'm in a long line (solo) for Italian Job Stunt Track. It takes be perhaps 3 minutes to recognize a person I know in the group immediately in front of me. We're in line for about 45 minutes and he simply has no clue that he knows me. I actually thought I'd caught his eye for a sec and gave a friendly wave, but no connection. This was a customer who I'd presented to and met with on at least three occasions, but it was business, so I didn't actually feel like making small talk, but all the same, it would have been nice to say hello !
  • There's a dude in the neighbourhood who everyone knows as he's always hanging out talking with people and the like. Some people know him as the tanned guy that never seems to work. Anyway, I probably see him 3 days out of 5 walking to and from the subway. I made an effort a while ago to stop and introduce myself and find out a little bit more about him. Interesting guy, Keith his name is. So I continue to walk by this guy on a very regular basis and on occasion I make sure to say hello, but he never seems to remember me, what's up ? If he didn't want to meet people, he shouldn't hang out on the street and look so friendly !
  • Another neighbourhood one. The panhandlers. I give a few panhandlers a little change now and again (quite rarely, but sometimes, especially around Christmas time). Anyway, I've spent a few minutes with some of them, finding out a little more about them and being friendly. Now you'd think it would be in their best interest to remember the people that walk by them on a regular basis wouldn't you ? Apparently not. Their loss of hope in the world seems to have taken away the very thing that might help them out a little - a little common ground and polite awareness of their neighbours.
  • The subway and the walking businessman. This one is a little tricky and I can understand a personal preference to travel solo rather than having to make small talk with a neighbour. However, it's just nice to say hello if you see a neighbour on the street or on the subway. You don't have to share the an intimate subway ride for 30 mins, but at least you can be civil, pay attention to the people around you and say hello.
  • The guy in the street. Maybe I'm more observant than others or annoyingly friendly, but I like to bump into old acquaintances on the street. It makes the city feel smaller and more hospitable. But, I don't think I've been on the receiving end of a "oh, hello, haven't seen you in while" in quite some time.
So, if you're reading this, be a friendly citizen of your town and say hello to people (maybe even get to know and remember their name). I think most people would like that !

One of those days

It's one of those days at the office.

I was going to be a good lad while things were a little quiet and make sure all my tech stuff is in order. But the IT gods are not on my side, issues with license keys, access to corporate servers and delays in getting data from our servers for a customer report- argh.

Even doing a little cleanup of my yahoo account (which is about as organized as my son's storage strategy for his PS2 games) was giving me problems with weird browser errors.

Hence, the reason I find a little time to write a few words here.
At least the camera crews have now gone from the office and we're back to the normal, efficient and quiet operation of a professional office environment.

It seems like there were about 100 people on the crew earlier this week. All crowded into our office lobby, using the boardroom for film scenes for the latest in
Bollywood moviemaking. This one was is called Lucky Charms. I did a little digging and didn't spot any connections to any other Bollywood or Indian production I may have stumbled over before, so I really didn't get too excited about the whole thing. It would have been a little different if I had to keep my conference calls a little quieter for Mr. Ritchie. I actually came out of my office at one point and almost walked right through a shot (well, slight exaggeration).

I've seen a few movie sets over the years, and unfortunately I'm never really impressed by the scene. It's far from any exotic notions of seeing dramatic Oscar-winning performances unfold in front of your very eyes. It's more like having all your university pals move the lighting equipment for a Rolling Stones tour while your mum is trying to set the table for dinner.

Let me check what help I'm getting on the above mentions arghs, back in a sec (I'm guessing)...