09 May, 2013
"In 2005, author David Foster Wallace was asked to give the commencement address to the 2005 graduating class of Kenyon College. However, the resulting speech didn't become widely known until 3 years later, after his tragic death. It is, without a doubt, some of the best life advice we've ever come across, and perhaps the most simple and elegant explanation of the real value of education."
It is a holiday today in Germany (and other countries no doubt). We are off work and back home. I have spent the morning tripping through inspirational works like the "This is Water" speech and other essays of David Foster Wallace.
It is such a good way to while away the day.
05 May, 2013
The young spring grass
Grows up through the brown grey
Remnants of the long dark winter.
On the corner wooden fence post
Rests a hawk. Standing guard...
Completely still, except for a few
Feathers lifting in the sweet breeze.
My daughter and I are going on a long train journey for a ridiculously short period of time. In my heart there is this happy trippy dip sitting in the first of three train we will be riding in today.
After living so many years here, the delight in the Bundesbahn doesn't diminish. My friends and family find this both silly and endearing.
03 May, 2013
In a seat at the back of the bus
Bags, not many, her friends,
Her only worldly possessions,
Keeping her and the seats
Both left and right of her occupied.
She shifts her weight in the direction
Of leaving, exit here, exit now...
Her warm winter coat slips open
Exposing a rag doll wrapped in a
Blanket who she coos over as if...
Her baby. Real. For one moment I
As well as on the stench of unwashed
11 April, 2013
Times change and so does technology. Not only the fiber optic speedways, but also the low tech stuff as well.
I am on my way south on my favorite Bundesbahn and I noticed something. The railway tracks are built on cement pilings and not wood ones, as they once were. Gone are the days of my childhood in Canada when we would wander down railway tracks in the countryside, heading to the next village store.
I imagine the cement used now is some super duper bionic material that is completely impervious to weather conditions, all the while being amazingly strong and flexible at the same time. Strange to think of some engineer spending their time inventing such a material. Not media worthy news. Yet it is used over thousands of miles of tracks.
06 April, 2013
One of the reasons I decided life in Germany is a fine thing, is its long standing tradition of cafes. In every town and city there are a wealth of cafes to explore.
The cafe in the photo is fantastic in its simplicity of decor, excellent lunch, and proximity to one of my favorite museums in Berlin, the Berggruen.
It is also the first place where I met with my new-found blogging friend, Charlotte, for the first time in person. So, if you are reading this, Char, in your home far away, greetings from Charlottenburg.
05 April, 2013
The day rose grey and cold. We sat long over breakfast and got caught up with all those familiar topics friends talk about, who haven't seen each other in a year's time.
To outsiders it might appear we are serving ourselves to a smorgasbord of random thoughts and happenings, but to connoisseurs there is a method underlying our conversational meanderings. We taste certain sweet bits first and save the sadder, lovely bits for later. It doesn't matter what we are discussing, there is such a sense of good will, a fine tingling lightness lingers as I go and brush my teeth and get ready to go into the city.
We travel by bus, train, streetcar, bus, walk along long ugly streets whichwas once Eastern Germany. The endless uniform apartment blocks were built sixty years ago under the communist /socialist regime.
The last twenty, since the wall came down, there has been a lot of effort and money spent to create change. The only thing a stranger like I can see is in the diverse looks of the people' s faces populating the sidewalks and the fantastic organic food served in a nearby cafe.
The greyness permeates my outer winter self. The only warmth is in our laughter.
04 April, 2013
I am on my way to my favorite yearly outing to Berlin.
A long weekend of chatting over endless cups of tea, good food, lot's of laughter and exciting exhibits to see...
Will try and keep you updated. I'm trying to go mobile.
01 April, 2013
Had a good laugh this morning. Don't know if you guys have been following the hype about augmented reality glasses. It started a year or so (maybe two!) when Google announced Google Glass.
And this is sort of where things are today...
When I was working at the local university a few years ago, I did some research in augmented reality application and pervasive gaming. It was a really interesting time in my life. The work showed there are some very silly, as well as very useful ways of using augmented information.
For instance, the ability for technicians to receive augmented information for the repair of machinery in dangerous and critical situations. This would allow someone in a seperate location to look at the present installation and then send relevant instructions to the technicians in exactly the form they need it.
Whether we, the normal folk, will ever need augmented reality glasses is doubtful. Our lives are often overloaded with information as it is!
16 March, 2013
10 March, 2013
This video shows the results of Harvard business economist's study about the wealth distribution in the States. The study asked 5,000 Americans what they think would be the ideal distribution curve and secondly, what they think the reality is. The video uses smart infographics to show these results and then with a twist painful twist, what is the cruel reality.
I tried to find out what the actual reality of wealth distribution in Germany is. Germany is not a social state to the extent the Scandinavians are considered to be, but it is a social state nevertheless. Since we have social medicine and social assistance, I hoped the wealth distribution would be fairer.
After a briefly researching the internet, I found these figures:
- 0.5% of Germans own 25% of private wealth (in comparison, 1% of American's own 40% of their nation's wealth)
- 5% own 46%
- 10% own 67%
So, what conclusions can I draw? Maybe, that from the perspective of us normal folk, the wealth distribution is stupendously askew in all so-called industrial countries. Could we even be barking up the wrong tree, always comparing wealth distribution with costs of socialism?
17 February, 2013
15 February, 2013
Up the grey ice water and
The winter debris either slaps
Back and forth, ineffectively,
On the beach front, or it bobs
Up and down just below the
Foaming surface. It all looks
So cold and dejected, rejected,
Depressed. My boot toe loosens
The corner of a torn luggage tag...
GUA to FRA... Guatemala to
Frankfurt on a grey spit of a beach
On the Alster lakefront. What a
Story it tells. My ears are closed
Muffled by my blue wool hat.
14 February, 2013
- Call your mom and wish her a Happy Valentine’s. You will get more gold stars for this than you will calling on Mother’s Day, since that is more or less a duty call.
- Compose a poem and send it as an email to a friend living far away (feel free to use the samples mentioned above).
- Anonymously place marzipan hearts on each of your officemates’ desks. Enjoy the secrecy of your generosity. (Don’t forget to put one on your desk too.)
- Take your children out for an ice cream treat. It’s fun eating ice cream in the middle of winter.
- you gave someone a gift spontaneously
- someone gave you a gift without it being Christmas or your birthday
- you treated yourself to something special
I saw the above video last year for the first time. Today, I watched it for a second time and liked it just as much, if not more.
A lot has happened in my life in the last 12 months and I just wanted to say thank-you to all my family and friends (and you online friends as well) for your support, generosity, kindness and... love.
11 February, 2013
09 February, 2013
There is no place better to find stories and storytellers than in the Internet. There are countless podcasts out there to fill your life with good stories. I've have "gone through" many over the last 10-12 years and here are some of the podcasts that have stuck to my subscription list like Velcro and I listen to faithfully.
Eleanor Wachtel is a champion interviewer. She generously sets a stage for storytellers to tell their stories every week, in Writers And Company . Ms. Wachtel's questions writers about their work and their lives. Her interviews are well-prepared, probing, prodding, expansive journeys. The writers are give a large berth to explain and explore how their personal biographies or life experiences contextually influence their writing.
One of the interviews I have listened to countless times is titled the Irish Panel,
"This week, the magic of the Irish short story, then and now - with Roddy Doyle, Claire Keegan and Kevin Barry."
If you delight in lively banter and the discourse of master storytellers, this is a good place to start.
Michael Ondaatje interviews Eleanor Wachtel on the occasion of the show's 20 anniversary. It turns out that Eleanor Wachtel can give as good as she gets.
Next on the list of my Top 5 Favourites is, This American Life.
"The radio show and TV show follow the same format. There's a theme to each episode, and a variety of stories on that theme. It's mostly true stories of everyday people, though not always. There's lots more to the show, but it's sort of hard to describe. Probably the best way to understand the show is to start at our favorites page, though we do have longer guides to our radio show and our TV show. If you want to dive into the hundreds of episodes we've done over the years, there's an archive of all our old radio shows and listings for all our TV episodes, too."
This is the trailer to a fantatic show they did in NYC and live-streamed across the US, Canada, and Australia. Sure wish I had been there, but watching the video is also fun.
Last fall, my daughter and I met up with my mother (from Grenada), my sister (from Santa Cruz), in Toronto. Coincidentally, Ira Glass was giving a show on the future of radio during this time. My daughter and I not only got to attend this fabulous show, but we also got to meet Mr. Glass in person.
When we went to pick up our tickets at the box office, we followed a line of people into the theater, not knowing it was the back stage door. Once we were in the theater, we realised we had made a mistake and explained this to the next security guard we met. Somewhere in the explanation I said, "We are here to see Ira Glass...", and the security guard translated this to "meet Ira Glass". Subsequently, he escorted us into a closed bar area that turned out to be where all the CBC VIPs were taken to so they could chat with Mr. Glass before the show.
I did manage to gather the nerve and introduce my daughter and myself and thank him for producing such a wonderful show. The whole encounter was thrilling, awkward, and embarrassing all at the same time.
Here are three other podcasts telling great stories for you to explore as well:
20 January, 2013
This I Believe
"This I Believe is an international organization engaging people in writing and sharing essays describing the core values that guide their daily lives."
Listening to This I Believe podcasts is a guarantee to make me feel grateful for the gift of the day. They are moving, thoughtful reflections by people both famous and not. They write about their personal beliefs and not just their opinions. Even if some of the authors write about core values very different to my own, their essays give me insight into how they live their lives.
This I Believe has been going since the 1950s, when it was a radio show hosted by Edward R. Murrow (one of my all time heroes). You can read the essays or hear them spoken. I love to hear the authors read their essays out loud. It lends a special dimension to their thoughts.
I don't quite know where to begin singing the praises of On Being with Krista Tippett. Perhaps I should just start with two examples of marvelously interesting people conversing with Krista on her program:
A Wild Love for this World
"Joanna Macy is a philosopher of ecology, a Buddhist scholar, and an exquisite translator of the poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke. We take that poetry as a lens on her wisdom on spiritual life and its relevance for the political and ecological dramas of our time."
Words That Shimmer
"Elizabeth Alexander shares her sense of what poetry works in us — and in our children — and why it may become more relevant, not less so, in hard and complicated times."
It is possible to listen to the unedited and edited versions of the show. I nearly always start with the unedited version, then go onto the edited version, and then go to the site and look at the extra material. Crazy. I know. But the ideas shared are just that good!
In these times where everything is being whittled down into easily digestible bites, On Being is a pioneer in Slow Thoughtful Conversation. The program editors are masters in preparing savoury many-course meals for happy consumption.
If listening to podcasts is not one of your regular past times, I can only encourage you to give it a try. They are highly enjoyable, informative, contemplative and there are no commercials! Pure entertainment.
*As you may have noticed, the list includes public radio program podcasts. There are many excellent amateur** podcasts that are as good as the ones I mention.
For example, if you are interested in finding about news in the tech world, I'd venture to say the amateur podcasts are the places you should be going to.
**Amateur: not in the sense of lacking in quality or not being professional... rather... Amateur: filled with passion, zing, and commitment, but not under public radio contract.
18 January, 2013
Years and years ago, I wrote a three gaming scripts titled Talkshow Rivals, Sydney Soap, and London Live. (The forth, Atlanta Gold is just a rough sketch of a story.) The games are interactive soap operas: part video sequences, part mini games. There is a hellava lot (maybe 60%) of storytelling going, dispersed with gaming activity (40%). At the time I was trying to sell the script to a large Japanese publisher, video games consisted of 10% story and 90% game playing. (I'm being generous here!)
Still, it was a thrill to be given a chance to pitch my idea to their marketing and R&D departments. In the end, they turned down the scripts because they said production costs would be too high.
Their refusal made me put the work on the back shelf. Literally. I took all of the folders and stored them in one of our cupboards. There they stood for the last ten years.
Fast forward to today... an acquaintance of mine, who has known me from way back when, is going to introduce me to a new neighbour of hers. This said neighbour has worked in the gaming industry for many years. Can I be getting a second chance?
My goal... is to be able to sit down once again with someone in-the-know and have a serious talk about my vision of what gaming can be. I'd like to know whether my concept was just before it's time, or just way out of field.
Wish me luck.