Friday, 25 January 2013

Did I Do Anything Last Night?

All pictures taken in and around Cuenca Ecuador
Books are like mirrors: if a fool looks in, you cannot expect a genius to look out. ~ J.K. Rowling #quote

Being on television every night has definitely made me crazier than when I started ~ Craig Ferguson #quote

You can't create experience, you undergo it. ~ Albert Camus #quote

What worries you masters you. ~ H.W. Robinson #quote

The chief enemy of creativity is good sense. ~ Pablo Picasso #quote

Did I do anything last night that suggested I was sane? ~ Terry Pratchett (Going Postal) #quote

Be careful, lest in casting out your demon you exorcise the best thing in you. ~ Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche #quote

We are our own dragons as well as our own heroes, and we have to rescue ourselves from ourselves.  ~ Tom Robbins #quote

I would believe only in a God that knows how to Dance. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche #quote

I'm gonna put a curse on you and all your kids will be born completely naked. ~ Jimi Hendrix #quote

Call on God, but row away from the rocks. ~ Hunter S. Thompson #quote

No man should escape our universities without knowing how little he knows. ~ J. Robert Oppenheimer #quote

Cemetery Gate

I believe there is something out there watching us. Unfortunately, it's the government. ~ Woody Allen #quote

The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity. ~ Ellen Parr #quote

Andy Warhol is the only genius I've ever known with an I.Q. of 60. ~ Gore Vidal #quote

Eat, drink and be merry... For tomorrow we die. ~ Epicurus #quote

The bitterest tears shed over graves are for words left unsaid and deeds left undone. ~ Harriet Beecher Stowe #quote

Don't carry a grudge. While you're carrying the grudge the other guy's out dancing ~ Buddy Hackett #quote

A good upbringing means not that you won't spill sauce on the tablecloth, but that you won't notice it when someone else does. ~ Anton Chekhov #quote

These are the days of miracle and wonder. ~ Paul Simon #lyrics

The best way to predict the future is to invent it. ~ Alan Kay #quote

Science has not yet taught us if madness is or is not the sublimity of the intelligence. ~ Edgar Allan Poe #quote

Your task is not to foresee the future, but to enable it. ~Antoine de Saint Exupéry (The Wisdom of the Sands) #quote

When you're going through hell, keep going. ~ Einstein #quote

If the national mental illness of the United States is megalomania, that of Canada is paranoid schizophrenia. ~ Margaret Atwood #quote

Ones first step in wisdom is to question everything - and ones last is to come to terms with everything.~ George Lichtenberg #quote

It is not the strongest species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the ones most responsive to change. ~ Charles Darwin #quote

Pretend to be good always, and even God will be fooled. ~ Kurt Vonnegut, God Bless You, Mr. Rosewater #quote

How vain it is to sit down to write when you have not stood up to live. ~ Henry David Thoreau #quote

It is possible for one never to transgress a single law and still be a bastard. ~ Hermann Hesse #quote

The worst thing that could happen to anybody, would be to not be used for anything by anybody. ~ Kurt Vonnegut #quote

Anyone who conducts an argument by appealing to authority is not using his intelligence; he is just using his memory. ~ Leonardo da Vinci #quote

I'm sorry, if you were right, I'd agree with you. ~ Robin Williams #quote

He dares to be a fool, and that is the first step in the direction of wisdom. ~ James Huneker #quote

Whenever you’re in trouble won’t you stand by me ~ John Lennon #lyrics

I look at the world and I notice it’s turning / While my guitar gently weeps ~ George Harrison #lyrics

The mind that is wise mourns less for what age takes away; than what it leaves behind. ~ William Wordsworth #quote

You must be the change you wish to see in the world. ~ Mohandas Gandhi #quote

We could ever be something / We could rise with the stars / Better off as we are ~ Blue Rodeo #lyrics

Strawberry fields / Nothing is real / And nothing to get hung about / Strawberry fields forever ~ John Lennon #lyrics

Tuesday, 22 January 2013

To Survive is to Find Meaning

Procrastination is one of the most common and deadliest of diseases and its toll on success and happiness is heavy. ~ Wayne Gretzky #quote

A fool thinks himself to be wise, but a wise man knows himself to be a fool. ~ William Shakespeare #quote

It is the customary fate of new truths, to begin as heresies, and to end as superstitions. ~ Thomas Huxley #quote

Honesty is something you can't wear out. ~ Waylon Jennings #quote

I pay no attention whatever to anybody's praise or blame. I simply follow my own feelings. ~ Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart #quote
Every word or concept, clear as it may seem to be, has only a limited range of applicability. ~ Werner Heisenberg #quote

Continuous effort - not strength or intelligence - is the key to unlocking our potential. ~ Winston Churchill #quote

Let us read and let us dance - two amusements that will never do any harm to the world. ~ Voltaire #quote

I got along without you before I met you and I'll get along without you a long time after you're gone. ~ Willie Nelson #quote

No plan can prevent a stupid person from doing the wrong thing in the wrong place at the wrong time - but a good plan should keep a concentration from forming. ~ Charles E. Wilson #quote

It is here that we encounter the central theme of existentialism: to live is to suffer, to survive is to find meaning in the suffering. ~ Victor Frankl #quote

Life is a moderately good play with a badly written third act. ~ Truman Capote #quote

The difficulty, the ordeal, is to start. ~ Zane Grey #quote

Facts sometimes have a strange and bizarre power that makes their inherent truth seem unbelievable. ~ Werner Herzog #quote

Everybody's an artist. Everybody's God. It's just that they're inhibited. ~ Yoko Ono #quote
Life is a ticket to the greatest show on earth. ~ Martin H. Fischer #quote

Live without dead time. ~ Anonymous graffiti, Paris 1968 #quote

You can avoid reality, but you cannot avoid the consequences of avoiding reality. ~ Ayn Rand #quote

What appear to be faults in others may actually be reflections of our own emotional afflictions. ~ Geshe Dhargyey #quote

Before you criticize someone, you should walk a mile in their shoes. That way, when you criticize them, you're a mile away and you have their shoes. ~ Jack Handey #quote

It's a form of betrayal when people close to you accept what you tell them at face value. ~ The Devil's Feather, Minette Walters #quote

I may not yet be as old as dirt, but dirt and I are starting to have an awful lot in common. ~ Stephen R. Donaldson #quote

Come live in my heart, and pay no rent. ~ Samuel Lover #quote

The greatest way to live with honor in this world is to be what we pretend to be. ~ Socrates #quote

Disobedience is the true foundation of liberty. The obedient must be slaves. - Henry David Thoreau #quote

Bad men live that they may eat and drink, whereas good men eat and drink that they may live. ~ Socrates #quote

Always gotta keep busy or the voices start telling me to do wild things. ~ Steve Brown #quote

Circumstances are the rulers of the weak; they are but the instruments of the wise. ~ Samuel Lover #quote

If you do not know where you are going, any road will take you there. ~ Sterling Holloway #quote

You have no idea how expensive it is to look this cheap. ~ Steve Tyler #quote

It is impossible to be a mathematician without being a poet in soul. ~ Sofia Kovalevskaya #quote

A day without sunshine is like, you know, night. ~ Steve Martin #quote

Say what you know, do what you must, come what may. ~ Sofia Kovalevskaya #quote

What likelihood is there of corrupting a man who has no ambition? ~ Samuel Richardson #quote

Nobody stands taller than those willing to stand corrected. ~ William Safire #quote

It was dreadful. They tried to put the little redhead in a cage. ~ Sarah Ferguson #quote

This is the strangest life I've ever known. ~ Jim Morrison #quote

Best to live lightly, unthinkingly. ~ Sophocles #quote

Writing is an antidote for loneliness. ~ Steven Berkoff #quote

Grace tried is better than grace, and it is more than grace, it is glory in its infancy. ~ Samuel Rutherford #quote

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

Vancouver Canada

Vancouver is a coastal seaport city on the mainland of British Columbia, Canada. The 2011 census recorded more than 603,000 people in the city, making it the eighth largest among Canadian cities. The metropolitan area, with more than 2.3 million residents, is the third most populous metropolitan area in the country and the most populous in Western Canada. With 5,249 people per square kilometre (13,590 per sq mile), the City of Vancouver is the most densely populated Canadian municipality among those with 5,000 residents or more. Vancouver is one of the most ethnically and linguistically diverse cities in Canada, with 52% for whom English is not their first language.

The original settlement, named Gastown, grew around the Hastings Mill logging sawmill and a nearby tavern, both established in 1867. Enlarging to become the town site of Granville, with the announcement that the rail head would reach the site it was renamed "Vancouver" and incorporated as a city in 1886. By 1887, the transcontinental railway was extended to the city to take advantage of its large natural seaport, which soon became a vital link in a trade route between the Orient, Eastern Canada, and London.  As of 2009, Port Metro Vancouver is the busiest and largest port in Canada, and the most diversified port in North America.

While forestry remains its largest industry, Vancouver is well known as an urban centre surrounded by nature, making tourism its second-largest industry. Major film production studios in Vancouver and Burnaby have turned Metro Vancouver into the third-largest film production centre in North America after Los Angeles and New York City, earning it the film industry nickname, Hollywood North.  Vancouver has ranked highly in worldwide "liveable city" rankings for more than a decade according to business magazine assessments and it was also acknowledged by Economist Intelligence Unit as the first city to rank among the top-ten of the world's most liveable cities for five straight years.

While neither Fred nor Sigred grew up in Vancouver, it played a large part in both of their lives.  Sigred lived there for something like 33 years and Fred spent two sessions in the city, one when he was in his late 20's for 5 years and another when he was in his late 50's until Fred & Sigred left for Ecuador when Fred was 67.

It's a beautiful city and often in Ecuador people will comment on that to Fred & Sigred.  Sigred's first response is usually, "Yes.  It's very green.  That's because it rains there 300 days a year."  She means it to be funny and usually people see the humour and laugh along with her, although some will try and tell her that actually it doesn't rain "that" much and certainly not with the intensity of some other places on the planet.  Sigred often wanders away at this point.  

Sigred had tried to get some friends in Vancouver to send her snaps of "iconic" pictures of Vancouver.  While one snap came from her daughter that she had taken from her office window, busy lives precluded Sigred's request and her daughter's snap ended up being the only one forthcoming.  A search in Flicker asking for "Creative Commons" pictures and searching Vancouver, brought up a plethora of snaps and Sigred found herself with her requisite number quite easily. She however did note that she'd managed to pick an awful lot on the waterfront and hastens to advise people there are lovely parks, huge shopping centres, public art everywhere, nice museums, great restaurants and everything else a City should have.

As their last 13 years in Canada were spent on the water it's not surprising that Sigred would feel a great kinship for the Pacific Ocean.

In any case, the whole idea behind writing this blog was to reflect on the "home" Sigred & Fred left behind now that several years have gone by.  Fred's been back to Canada once during the last  4+ years, while Sigred hasn't been back at all.

Looking at the pictures, Sigred was struck by just how beautiful the City is.  Living in all that grandeur, one forgets and sees it as an "every day" thing.  Being away from it for a while, points out quite clearly both the good & bad left behind.

The children are missed, of course, but at this point they've developed strong lives without the day-to-day presence of Fred & Sigred.  Skype & GoogleTalk provide an easy way to stay in touch and they do. 

They'd often go for walks around False Creek, down past Granville Island Market, through the garden area surrounding the market, along the creek and down to Science World.  Walking down that groomed path there was a good possibility one would hear the babble of maybe 5 or 6 different languages as the people passing by were from all over the world.  All colours and all ages, from oldsters walking slowly to young people zipping by on skate boards or bicycles.   It was one of the very best places in the City to show off it's blended diversity.  By contrast, Ecuador is essentially of two cultures, Indigenous and Spanish. 

People & places, certain iconic sights, that particular sound of the Skytrain zipping overhead, like the clinking of the halyards on the boat ~ these things are missed, not with a heavy heart but with pleasant memories.

Fred & Sigred have managed to find for themselves a very satisfying life in Ecuador.  They're building memories of people & places and new iconic sights & sounds that are imprinting themselves and will ultimately remind them of their home in Ecuador where ever they may be in the future.   

Somehow one wonders if time spent in Thailand, Paris or Fiji could create the same effect? 

It probably would....What a wonderful planet!

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

This Whole "Getting Old Thing" gets Pretty Old Pretty Fast

This is Necessary Background Information which can also be found in the TNCNNA Random Story "Pun Intended"

About 10 years ago Fred hurt his back picking up a box of copy paper at work.  He was off work for 6 weeks and ended up being on a medication for about 3 years to keep the swelling down on the herniated disc he'd managed to conjure up.  When Fred & Sigred moved to Ecuador, and particularly Cuenca, his leg ceased to hurt.  You see his back didn't hurt, but the swelling in the herniated disc caused pressure on the sciatic nerve which in turn caused considerable pain in his leg.   Fred thinks it had something to do with the altitude in Cuenca; less pressure, more exercise... something.  In any case, Fred did not have to take any more medication from the time they arrived in Ecuador until 3-1/2 years later.

At that time, Sigred decided it was time to get their rugs cleaned.  She'd tried to clean them herself but it was not satisfactory.  Thus, she looked around and found a lovely place that would take their rugs away, clean them and bring them back 8 days later, smelling sweet & fresh and looking great.  The added extra bonus was that for 1 large rug, 1 medium rug, and 2 small rugs, the total cost was $30.  Can't beat that!  Preparatory to the rugs being picked up, Fred & Sigred pushed the couches & chairs off of them and rolled them (the rugs) into tubes.   Two days later Fred started complaining about pain in his leg.

Several days (weeks?) later, Sigred convinced him to go to the Doctor and Fred came home with a bottle of pills, the prescription to go to Banos (the local hot springs) at least once a week and the mandate to lose 30 pounds.

Again, several days (weeks) go by; the pain in Fred's leg is much diminished; Fred & Sigred had started to look forward to their trips to Banos and all seemed good and well.

Here's where Fred's Latest Saga Begins

On Thursday Fred & Sigred went out to dinner with a friend of theirs to a new Fondu place that had opened in Cuenca.  None of them had had fondu for several years (decades) and it was fun to skewer vegetables & meat & breads and cook them in the hot oil or dip them in the wonderful melted cheese sauce and it was heaven to dip fresh fruit into the hot Ecuadorian chocolate sauce provided for dessert.

It was a nice evening and several bottles of wine were thoroughly polished off.

That night, Fred was up several times with a terrible stomach ache.  He at one point even threw up.  Fred & Sigred both felt it was an overreaction to their evening and basically laughed it off.  The next day Fred continued to complain about stomach pains, threw up several more times, and was unable to eat anything except a vanilla milkshake that Sigred had pleaded with him to drink.

Friday night, Fred slept very little, his stomach hurting almost continuously and again he threw up several times during the night.

Saturday morning, Sigred had Fred phone their family Doctor.  When 3 hours went by and no phone call was returned (Note:  It was a religious long weekend in a Catholic country) Sigred packed Fred up and they went to Emergency.  At Emergency Fred told them his problem in stumbling Spanish and the nurses at the desk somehow contacted his Doctor.  Forty-five minutes later the Doctor, in jogging clothes, examined Fred, gave him a shot in the butt for the pain, told him to eat nothing but liquids and sent him home.

The Doctor phoned Sunday and was advised the pain was still there although the vomiting seemed to have diminished.  They made arrangements for Fred to come in first thing Monday morning for blood tests and a ultra sound scan.  That day Fred had 2 small cups of soup and 2 small glasses of milk.

Monday morning, Fred headed for the clinic.  While the results of the blood tests wouldn't be available until late that afternoon, the ultra sound showed a lesion at the beginning of Fred's intestines.  Fred came home, fell into bed, had a 3 hour nap, and then headed back to the clinic.  The blood tests all looked pretty good so the Doctor arranged for an endoscopic procedure the next morning.  The Doctor also gave Fred a super ant-acid and a sleeping pill.  Fred at that point, having not had a decent nights sleep for 4 days was getting somewhat frantic.  He had sips from a tall glass of apple juice that day and half a glass of milk.   (Note Again:  Fred at this point had lost 10 of the 30 pounds dictated previously.)

Tuesday morning, Fred woke up chipper & chatty & bright & relieved to be out of pain with 9 hours sleep under his belt with only one brief break in the middle of the night.  That day he had the endoscopic procedure.  Fred & Sigred arrived at the hospital and met the specialist and his nurse.  They sat in a very nicely appointed office for 5 minutes while the Doctor keyed in Fred's statistics to a "fanshy" computer program.  Then the Doctor & Nurse took Fred to another room while Sigred stayed in the office (right next door) and watched the entire procedure on a video camera.

Fred was given a spray to "freeze" his throat and an IV with a sedative designed, not to put him asleep, but to make him "very" relaxed".  Then a tube with a small camera and a snipper was shoved down his throat to the base of his stomach and a bit beyond and then brought all the way up again.

The procedure took about 15 minutes; Fred rested for about 5 minutes and then came out to the office while the Doctor filled in the computer form, complete with pictures, diagnosis and a DVD video of the whole  procedure.  The entire package was presented to Fred & Sigred in a very nice folder.  (Note:  In North America the Doctor's keep your records.  In Ecuador [at least] the Doctor presents you with the details of your procedures, x-rays, blood tests, etc. for you to keep or trash as you wish.)  The Doctor then advised Fred that an old (medication caused) ulcer was back, probably again caused by the medication for his sciatica, and in addition he had a small hernia caused by the whole irritation thing happening in his guts.  (All in Spanish.)  The Doctor described the ulcer as "gigante".  Snips had been taken during the procedure and would go for biopsy but both the endoscopic Doctor and their own Doctor felt everything would be OK once Fred was on medication for 1 to 3 months.  (Cancer was discussed and [as Doctor's will] poo pooed [with some careful and barely noticeable loopholes.])

Fred was given instructions that he could eat pretty much what he wanted, except nothing spicy and no alcohol.

Upon arriving home, Fred ate a pretty large bowl of home made cream-of-tomato-soup and went down for a dreamless, painless nap.

End of this Saga

But what are they going to do about Fred's sciatica Sigred wondered (?) and then shook off the thought for yet another day.

PS:   Because Fred lost over 25 pounds during the few days he was unable to eat because of the pain from the ulcer, his sciatica disappeared once again.  These days Fred & Sigred are careful not to let Fred push, pull or carry anything heavy and he's been 9 months ulcer & sciatica free. 

Monday, 7 January 2013

Frustrated with Society

Alan Whitney Brown (born July 8, 1952) is an Emmy Award-winning writer and comedian probably best known for his recurring appearances on Saturday Night Live in the 1980s opposite Dennis Miller.  Also, he was one of the original correspondents on Comedy Central's The Daily Show from 1996 to 1998.  Born in Charlotte, Michigan, Brown began his career as a street juggler, and became a stand-up comedian after entering the 1975 San Francisco Comedy Competition. He became a member of the Writer's Guild when he was hired by Lorne Michaels to join the writing staff of Saturday Night Live in 1985; he was also a featured performer. He left for personal reasons six years later. He worked briefly for the liberal radio network Air America Radio during its start-up period in early 2004 and remains active in online political discourse.  On March 4, 2011, Brown married Carolyn Wonderland, a blues singer and guitarist, in Austin, Texas. The marriage was officiated by ex-Monkee Michael Nesmith.

Wednesday, 2 January 2013