30 September, 2008


I'm on my way soon to Berlin again. The gods willing, there will be more café stories to come.

28 September, 2008

Need Your Input

Living a Full Life
View SlideShare presentation or Upload your own. (tags: kenya education)
I don’t know if I’ve mentioned this, but recently I’ve been rather preoccupied with a project, setting up a website, for an organization in Kimilili, Kenya. The organization is called the Benando Breakthrough Support Mission and the people there care and educated 250 children.

Rev. Wasike and I are rather excited about what we have managed to put together so far. Especially, if you consider we are doing this all online, he has apparently (though you wouldn’t notice) much experience with Internet technology, and I have no experience setting up a website.

So, as raw beginners we need your help. I would like to ask you the favour of go over to the site, especially to the community blog, and leave a comment for Rev. Wasike and the people of the community.

27 September, 2008

A Good Businessman

I’ve just finished listening to Dick Gordon of the program The Story, interview Hal Taussig. Please take some time to listen to this show; it will get your grey cells vibrating back and forth. This is the description on the American Public Media website,

"Hal Taussig believes that CEOs have a responsibility to do more than earn wealth for themselves. He created a successful travel company called Untours. The company has a budget in the millions and maintains a healthy profit margin - but Hal does not keep any of the profits. He donates them to charity."

One of the difficulties I’ve struggled with over the last ten years, is the reduction of income and loss of future security. Unforeseen economical crisis, like the one we are presently experiencing, irresponsible spending from a close family member, and increasing age and decreasing job possibilities, have created a chronic situation where my family and I live with a lot of uncertainty.

Listening to Mr. Taussig speak about how vital he thinks life is, if we choose to live our lives in the midst of such uncertainty and insecurity, has been a revelation. In the end, it does not matter whether we choose to live humbly of our own volition, as he has chosen, or through practical necessity, as my family does, the concept he proposes is wonderful.

For the first time in ten years, I feel intrigued to spend time reflecting upon what those losses signify in practical terms of momentary changes, rather than bitterly mourn those losses in intellectual consideration of “things we will never have, trips we will never take, a type of retirement we’ll never enjoy” in future times.

If you do go and listen to the show, please leave a comment and tell me what you think.

24 September, 2008

Pompous Old Fool

This is the third café story that I wrote during my recent trip to Berlin. The gods willing, I'm off again next week for another visit. I hope to gather more stories while I am there.

He’s obviously derives much pleasure in hearing himself speak. More so than listening to what the other two at the table have to say.

Speaking forcefully, vehemently, he expounds upon the charms of New York, while sitting in a charming café in the middle of Charlottenburg in Berlin. The sun is shinning. The cappuccino lush. Where does this pompous old fool find the energy to continue his tirade?

His table guests try to change the direction of his bitter words. First, by posing leading questions towards other directions. These, he ignores. Then, they offer light humour. An insult to his immense (ego) intelligence.

He snaps his fingers impatiently at the waitress. More bread. His soup is not quite to his satisfaction. His table guests slide into their own conversation, while he arranges things to his satisfaction. He interrupts their conversation to complain about mundane idiosyncrasies of his life. Their facial expressions become strained. Not noticing, he continues on and on.

His voice carries across the room and invades my solitary side order of salad. Making me close my eyes and feeling his abrasiveness scrap across my mind. Leaving traces of irritation.

I wish him well. I wish him gone.

23 September, 2008

Retired Professors

This is the second café story that I wrote during my recent trip to Berlin.

They’ve been friends for years. Ever since they worked together in the same office at the university. Long retired. Surprisingly, both have managed to keep up their youthful appearances. That is, considering their age. They exude a lively intellect. They are the type of professionals that have worked long, but never hard.

Today, they’ve met for coffee and cigarillos. As they do every Thursday. Sharing the newspaper. One reads the current events section. The other prefers the editorials.

A homeless person wanders from table-to-table asking for money. Many of the customers look the other way when he is addressing them, as if the man is an annoyance to be pointedly ignored. Others just shake their heads denying their inclination.

When the man arrives at the professors’ table, the one invites the fellow to sit down at their table. He offers the man one of his cigarillos, then asks the passing waitress to bring another cup of coffee. The three men sit in comfortable silence. When the homeless man finishes his coffee, he nods his head in thanks, gets up without disturbing the professors any further and leaves the café.

19 September, 2008

Autumn Wistfulness


Quiet day spent indoors. The sun came out momentarily, but I ignored it.

Evening falls early, so much earlier than just a few days ago. I think wistfully of the summer that pasted without much notice. Should I say adieu?

We are travelling, the gods willing, back to Canada soon for a family visit. Little or no wistfulness about this venture, just possibly a sliver of trepidation. Only my personal trepidation. My son and daughter fly over with a lightness of spirit that is almost enviable.

They are not conscious as yet of the difference between family dynamics and family history. The one appears so universally enigmatic, the other tragically insufferable and most often, irreconcilable.

Adieu this summer of my heart. Please return to warm us again.

17 September, 2008

Busy as a Beaver


The days have been speeding by. I’ve been busy as a beaver on various projects. Some of the projects are for my work. I’ve helped some teachers and students begin the following projects:

  • Stop-motion animation project for an art class (topic metamorphosis)
  • Helping the students plan and organise an urban orientation race (using mobile phones and various digital devices and Google maps during the race)
  • Creating a Ning community for students to work in groups, studying and presenting various material focusing on life in post-centennial America
  • Creating a wiki for students to collaboratively write down study material for examination purposes

On top of this, I’ve become involved in two more global communities. This is on top of the three I’m already involved in. Admittedly, I’m going to have to reduce these activities sometime in the future. For now, it is all rather interesting.

If any of you are interested in finding out specifics of any of the above-mentioned projects, just drop me an email.

15 September, 2008

Jump Start

These last two week or so things have been so askew with the coverage of the Rebublican’s campaign. Even though I haven’t written anything about my distress and discomfort with the McCain/Palin campaign, I have been, as so many, rather obsessive with following the hype.

This is why it felt good to see this video from the New York Times this morning stating the hope that all of the hype has peaked. I wonder whether it is possible for is to accelerate the decent from the height of this Palin Mania. It’s time to make a statement, and mine is to give a cold shoulder to a campaign not deserving of attention, and focus once again on discussion of important issues.

For instance, in this chart, it appears that Mr. Obama(172) is leading Mr. McCain (148) in solid electoral votes, Mr. McCain (79) has more leaning electoral votes (Mr, Obama 66), and there is 73 tossup votes. Does anyone know what can be done to help sway those voters in the tossup states and help assure those voters who are leaning?

I think that what I will do, is try and write some more posts about Mr. Obama and how his person and his promised political strategies are influencing my personal and political beliefs. I will also start focusing my comments on articles written by bloggers who write with concern about political issues rather than extrapolating upon the ludicrous choice of the VP candidate.

It’s time to go on the offensive and create interesting discourse again.

14 September, 2008

Give Some Thought

Blog Action Day 2008 is approaching quickly. October 15th is the day that we are all asked to write our thoughts, opinions, or reflections on this year's theme, "Poverty".

Blog Action Day 2008 Poverty from Blog Action Day on Vimeo.
Last Year's theme was "Environment" and I wrote a post telling about how my knowledge about environmental issues and practices had changed in the 25 years since I moved to Germany.

This year, I am not sure what I will write about, other than it will be something dear to my heart rather than a piece of study. I've been thinking about poverty and abundance a lot in the last weeks. Mainly because of the US election where an astronomical amount of money is being spent promoting the candidates rather than the politics of changing the government with such astronomical debts.

I'm looking forward to writing something for Blog Action Day. I'm looking forward to reading the many other blog posts throughout that day as well. Please join.

12 September, 2008

Lovers’ Brunch in a Berlin Café

Wool sweater, home knit, falling off her left shoulder, exposing her white porcelain neck to her lover, they fall into an intense discussion that, at some point, slides unpredictably into a full blown disagreement, even though she and her older lover are happily in love, soaked in love, yet, it is true that her older lover, who dawns a 60s goatee, which he’s worn since those Beatnik days, for he is well into his 60s in age, is happy with his young lover, happy the way she draws attention when she walks into the café, whereas, his red-eyed lover whose wearing the wool sweater slipping off her left shoulder on this gorgeous late summer day, is less than happy, even though she is just in her 20s, she has intellectual points to argue, and it is only when the intellectual slides over into the personal, her hand gestures become less fluid holding the cigarette, less sensual, rather, they turn choppy like her words that are spit out, annunciating her hurt, underlying her vulnerability, and so, this breakfast of warm croissants and black coffee in a public place, becomes a dramatic private break up, that none of us hear, but we all bear witness to in silence.

11 September, 2008

Oddly Enough

Oddly enough, the amount of hits to this blog rose dramatically the other day after publishing my post "Men in Pantyhose". Who would have guessed there were so many fashion conscious people out there?

Trip to Berlin

Yesterday, for the first time in perhaps 20 years, I had a train department completely to my own. Luxury. The late summer countryside going by. No distracting sounds, smells, or vibrations coming from fellow passengers. Just me and my lonesome. Luxury.

Staying with friends of a friend who live in Charlottenburg,. This is one of the many charming neighbourhoods of this marvelous city. Though, I believe Charlottenburg is perhaps the most charming neighbourhood of them all. And my hostess and host and their two hosting boys are absolutely charming too.

The sun is shining. I am sitting in a café. I've just ordered breakfast. I am in heaven.

08 September, 2008

Men in Pantyhose

It’s a fine late summer afternoon. All of the outdoor café tables are filled with customers soaking up the golden warmth of the sun. A man passes me, elegantly dressed in chic nautical attire: topsiders, cut-above-the-knee navy blue shorts, white polo t-shirt, and a linen duffle bag strapped diagonally across his back… at first glance very dapper, though a tad conventional here on the Baltic Sea coast.

Then I look at his legs and realise he is wearing tanned silk pantyhose. His legs are shaved and there is an ever so slight sheen shinning off the back of his calves.

I remember seeing this photo yesterday in The Satorialist blog. At that time, I questioned how many males would have the nerve to wear fishnet stockings. Now, a day later, here is the first brave man walking down the street in front of me.

The whole effect is very elegant, almost unremarkable, except for the sheen. That is what catches the eyes of all the people passing him in the opposite direction, and the café customers people-watching. I start to watch people’s reactions to the pantyhose.

It is both an astonishing and heart-warming experience. First, it astonishes me how many people notice. I would say that nearly 90% of those he passes notice. Secondly, it is a heart-warming experience because the people’s universal reaction is to smile. Not a strained there’s-a-freak-if-I-ever-saw-one smile, but a ear-to-ear smile that speaks of tolerance and love of idiosyncrasy. I’m no sure how many of the people realise the pantyhose is a fashion statement, rather than a person quirk. It really matter if they do, does it?

06 September, 2008

Melted Glass

So, I thought I’d write about yesterday’s effort. The photo above was the original motive I used.
I had this idea to produce an enamel effect of the photo. As this enameller explained, what was need was to create an effect of melting glass and stark contrasts of metal oxides.

The work started out fine, but eventually just got away from me. I think I will have to start out with objects with simple geometric forms.

05 September, 2008


Spent about four or five hours doing a collage about the beauty of the late summer days, like today is. The whole thing went off in a direction I could not amend. I ended up trashing it. That sort of hurts.

04 September, 2008

Age And Ageism

The morning I turned forty-nine year old, I turned over in my bed and made a decision about how I wanted to go about the arduous task of aging in the Age of Ageism. The decision was to make up a list. It included five steps to help me walk into my fifties with my back straight and my head held high. The steps were:

  • If someone asks my age, I’d say “nearly fifty” instead of forty-nine
  • Find some role models of elders who were aging in a manner I could inspire
  • Start researching issues concerning lifestyle, health, politics, and society for elders
  • Discuss with friends and family what their hopes and fears were concerning age and aging
  • Figure out some adventures I wanted to do over the next few years

It seemed important that I figure our some strategies to support a gradual transition into old age. In the past, I tended to bull headedly rush into new experiences or phases in my life. For example, the transitions into puberty and young adulthood were studies in rash belligerent solitary over-confidence. At forty-nine, I just did not have the heart to repeat such fiascos. If I couldn’t age gracefully, at least I could age wisely. I didn’t quite know what that implied, but I knew I couldn’t do it alone.

Two years later, after recently celebrating fifty-first birthday, I am amazed at how smart that those steps on the list were. It has been two years of inward searching, establishing new friendships, and even partaking of a few adventures.

My role models have become friends. They have shown me the necessity of looking at the physical changes not with dismay, but with a certain amount of detachment. They are living proof that intellectually elders are as sharp as can be; and, most importantly, they have been kind and supportive towards my foibles and me.

02 September, 2008

New Hope


Children back at school. All the colleagues are back at the office. A new change. New hope.

01 September, 2008

Tripped into Treasure Trough

I am not quite certain how I got to this site, maybe it was from some indirect advertisement. In any case, there are some videos to treasure. There are all sorts of videos to do with watchmaking. It is well worth a browse.

The two videos I particularly liked were:

Yet, the following videos are also intriguing: