Disney By Blog: The Buena Vista Social Cult

I can now officially say that I’m part of the Buena Vista Social Cult. You know. The cult of Disney. I’m certainly guilty of purchasing all the dresses and pixie wings that my daughter has “needed” over her 6 short years…

Now in the ultimate culmination of what they want us to do we’re going to Disney. Headiing out later this year but had to be booked many months in advance otherwise we’d not get a table at a hip $300 breakfast with the Princesses.

Yes that marketing machine that was borne out of Uncle Walt and imbued into our pop culture with the goal of strategically poisoning our children in a controlled manner over decades has brought us to this end game.

Me vs. the Dis.

Just the basic trip planning has been maddening…but thankfully my wife is the one who’s toughed it through all the Mickey Mouse blogs, and Ear Savers and Big Ear Chat pages to find out the best times to zig when everyone else is zagging…My love for her for simply taking on that challenge grows ever deeper…

The prep has been crossed, and now the adventure will begin. I’ll try to make a few Disney by Blog entries when we’re away!

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The Time Remaining (re-blog)

When 9/11 occured I remained in a state of awesome shock for nearly three months. While I didn’t know anyone directly connected to the event I was deeply moved and affected by the incredible good and evil occuring that day. From the “there is no humanity left in the world”  attacks to the faith restoring human compassion and heroism exhibited by others that day.

That year I spent a somber New Year’s Eve alone in my apartment digesting a simple dinner and capping it with a light cognac. Below is the inspiration that came to me  while I watched what was left of the year disintegrate around me. An understand that something needed to change: in me, in the world, and in the way we live.

I still struggle with change, but I’m doing my best. Ten years later I am a better person, but not the best person I can be.

There is *STILL* more work to be done.

(re-blogged as a personal memoriam)

THE TIME REMAINING

In the time remaining we look back at the events of this year, and perhaps the last century. We are now truly moving into new and uncharted territory. The new year moves us squarely into the new century. There are no words to describe where we’ve come from, and there are fewer thoughts to describe where we’re headed.

Has everything gone wrong, or has everything gone right for you? The answers lie in the hearts and souls of each of us. Pushing through the curtain…past the edge of the tunnel.

In the time remaining I sit and wonder, not lament about choices I could have made, and choices that I will make. I am on the cusp, I feel that new discoveries will be made and new options will present themselves.

What will you do in the final hours? Is it the end or the beginning. Are you working hard at what will earn you your dream, or are you celebrating the events that will finally close a long chapter in your life?

In the time remaining we look up at the collapsing towers, to the falling memories of love ones, cherished times, and our failed attempts at peace, unity, and understanding. What will you do now? Will you help rebuild, or will you move into the next year with only a vague idea of what you want to do.

In the time remaining will you share, give, love and care, or will you steal, borrow, hate, and show indifference.

Seconds now until the new year is upon us…what will you do? Where will you go? Whom will you touch? How will you do it?

A dying moment left for you to decided what you do, in the time remaining…

Originally penned
December 31, 2001

[PAIN]

Dear Sony Ericsson

Dear Sony Ericsson,

Despite what you may think, my ear is neither able to grab nor does it have an opposable thumb which would make it easier for me to hold onto your poorly designed Bluetooth headset.

Further you should note that a human being’s ear canal actually changes shape when they speak so nothing round is going to stick in there for long unless you figure a way to “dig in” without causing discomfort, pain, or diarrhea.

Thought you should take these items into account when designing your next generation of shitty Bluetooth headsets.

All my love,

Sandeep

[PAIN]

The View From Broken Back Mountain

Ok, so it’s not quite Brokeback Mountain, it’s more of a clever title (which sadly isn’t all that clever either). There are no gay cowboys vying for each other’s love in my home, and they’re not dragging me out to the mountains once a year for a hidden tryst that neither’s wife knows about.

Instead I “simply” broke my back two summers ago while washing my hands one Sunday at the end of June.
I’d returned home after leaving my pregnant wife, and daughter with my parents (for only a short moment). The goal was get home find the phone number for the flooring store, and head out again to pick up my wife (J). We’d originally planned to let my daughter (M) hang with the grandparents while J and I went to town with the flooring.
I get home, take care of business, and then when washing my hands I heard a deafening “pop” followed by immediate searing pain then I collapse to the floor. I’m thinking that was weird. There’s no other pain for the moment. I try to get up and that’s when it hits. Pain like I’ve never felt coming from my lower back; it’s only at this point that I realize the reason I can’t actually get up is because both my legs aren’t moving and my left arm is paralyzed.
Using my best Jack Bauer trick, I one arm myself across the floor dragging my husk about 10 feet to the phone. I call my wife and she shows up about 10 minutes later. By this point the incredible pain and back spasms have set in deep and hard so much so I ended up having complete loss of lordosis (curvature) in my lower spine. Yep straight as a board, and very painful.
So what would bring this on in a 39-year-old man in generally good physical health? Stress my dear readers, lots and lots of inhuman stress, bad posture, working long hours for little reward, internalizing emotions, not dealing with things head on, self-wallowing, self-pity, and above all a complete a total disregard for every single warning sign my body was putting forward.
The car was moving at 400 km/h flying through every warning sign along side the road that there was with little regard for what was actually written on the sign.
When car finally went off the cliff the end result was 4 degenerating vertebrae, 2 torn discs, complete loss of lordosis in the lower back, and an inability to piss without a tube shoved up my urethra (albeit only for 2 days). On the upside at least it wasn’t something terminal like massive coronary, leukemia, or the litany of other equally debilitating things some 40-year-old friends of mine didn’t survive during the previous five years.
I used the time since my accident to bring myself back to mental sharpness, recover from the trauma of being away from fulltime work for nearly 12 months, and to find my centre. I’m a little more country and a little less rock ‘n’ roll now, you could say. Using a whole year to get your mind in gear, realign your goals, and figure out how you’re going to support your family is no easy task, and I’m still working on the right mix of elements to keep my life’s juices from turning volatile again, but it’s a long way down from the mountain and every so often I just pop.
With 2011 finally here, and 2010 sent off chasing my birth year I believe that I’m now physically fine and mostly recovered. There are still some tricky days that end with me feeling like I’ve been the shoe of an elephant, but they pass. I take no pills (save the odd Advil). I take vitamins daily; I eat breakfast on most days; and I’m still struggling with that late dinner bad habit.
This year I’ve promised to honour myself and deliver on regular tune ups with physio and therapeutic massage at least once a month. Serenity. Yoga. Better eating habits, and better sleeping habits (as you can see that’s going to take a little more work considering I’m writing this at 12:35pm).
The never wavering support and love of my wife J, and my two little one M (the monkey) and now the brand spanking new R (the id) keep me motivated on the hard days and floating on the good ones.
Slow and plodding, but ever vigilant my goals are set and shall be achieved.
[PAIN]

Ancient Civilizations Lego Day

Star Wars
Image by MoonSoleil via Flickr

When I was young Lego was the be all and end all of all toys. My brother and I would build all manner of spaceship or boat, and play for hours. We used Lego to supplement our Star Wars figure fun…no Landspeeder? No problem, Lego will solve it all. Of course many years later the union between Lego and Star Wars would take on a new life with co-branded and co-themed video games delivered by Lucas Arts, and Star Wars themed Lego sets.

But my brother and I were first…at least in our own minds–no sets, no models, no instructions. We were old school Lego-maniacs!

The thing that stuck with me through our Lego play was what I learned from playing with that toy is that we could solve any problem, and build any replacement part or piece or item for any activity. I’ve built table legs, propped up beds, Landspeeders, X-Wings, and even a Death Star. I’ve used my imagination to build things I couldn’t see, I couldn’t touch, and that I couldn’t remember.

Later in life I would go through uni and earn a Mechanical Engineering degree, and those key skills I learned from my Lego days helped me through: problem solving, basic engineering, physics, efficiency (using the least number of pieces to achieve one’s goal), and design. As with all things I suppose I grew older, and Lego lay mostly forgotten until February of this year when I seized the opportunity to run the Lego club at the local library. I work with 40 kids in a single day (2 sessions of 2 hours with 20 kids a piece) every couple of weeks, and it’s nothing less than re-living my greatest childhood achievements–yes they all had to do with Lego and what I could build, and nothing to do with academics or sports.

A couple of weeks ago I picked Ancient Civilizations for the Lego club’s theme. Standard fare is to show a short presentation on what Ancient Civilizations are, and then Ancient Civilizations themed scenes or items created with Lego. After that mandatory first 10 minutes we set the kids loose and leave them to decide what they’re going to build. One 11 year in my older group decided to recreate The Sphinx on his own from a 1″ x 1″ black and white picture in one of the books the library had provided for inspiration.

At first I thought what a lofty goal and applauded his enthusiasm, but I didn’t believe that he was going to make it.  By the end of the  two-hour period he had reminded me exactly what Lego is for, and what is achievable by through sheer determination and an ability to see through the lines. Noting that all the pieces we have that the club live in six 40 litre Rubbermaid containers and mostly filled with odd-ball pieces, his achievement deserved a special mention. Thankfully the library agreed and put it on display.
The slide show below shows a few items (including The Sphinx) that created that day:

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

My little friends had reminded me of that ultimate Lego moment: when one’s chest fills with pride; one’s heart glows brightly with achievement; and when the umbilical of one’s creation is cut and the creation shared with everyone. A pure moment.
When all was  done I thanked the youth for his brilliant contribution that day and ended as Palpatine would end his fleeting meeting with young Anakin in Episode I: The Phantom Menace:
…We will watch your career with great interest…
[pleasure]
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THE PATH OF LEAST RESISTANCE IS FUTILE

SAN RAFAEL, CA - JULY 17:  Packages of General...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

The path of least resistance is a futile one to follow for me…seems like everything I do or have done in my life has travelled the path of most resistance. Any attempt to take the easy way out, the low road, the most travelled path has simply never been an option.

The tests of my youth even illustrated that I was attracted only to the hard way. If there was an exam where I had the option of choosing three of four questions I would choose the three hardest ones. Regardless of the fact that I knew I would get a better mark by choosing the three easiest ones. In the end the result isn’t what mattered, it was always the challenge and feeling of accomplishment. While passing an exam is nice, “ace-ing” an exam was always elusive.

Yet day after day I see it wherever I go. The lowest common denominator running around with better toys, making more for themselves, seemingly happy or at least sufficiently numb in their lives that any hardships can easily be avoided. Why is that for them–the unwashed masses; that person who is so deathly happy with working at the local hardware store chain for $10 / hr and never knows where anything is–the life worth living is the one that requires the least effort? I don’t get it. I suppose I never did, but somehow they do get it.

Now I’m starting to see and feel what a lifetime of climbing uphill brings. Eventually the hardway becomes the only way, the high road is the only one you can see, and the least travelled path is the only path that ever really presents itself. The world starts tailoring everything for you. Things become pointier, less soft, you keep moving until one day you wake up and realize that you’re so far out to sea that there isn’t anyone around to give you a life raft;you’ve got to swim back to shore on your own.

I’m at that time now. I’ve only just begun to swim back to shore, and I’m not sure I’m going to make it all the way. Then again I suppose this is the hardway presenting itself again. I didn’t really need to swim out this deep into the water now, did I? I suppose not, it’s just that sometimes the way out is much easier to find (inspite of the hardship along the way) than the way back home. The way back home / to shore is a long swim away.

With no dinghy,
With no guiding buoy,
With no preserver of any kind.
With no lighthouse to guide me in.

I am alone in the return.

And yet in this moment the water around me is warm, feels–I suppose–like a womb-like comfort. All I have to do is to stay here and drown myself in this sea of loneliness and sorrow. That would be too easy…and there in lies the rub.

With all the strength I can muster,
With all my facilities about me,
With all warmth near by.
With all presense.

I take the long way home (again).

And when I reach shore, and open the that door to my home. I will make sure that I will balance the hard ones with the easy ones. Temper myself, and perhaps take a little corner of the page in the book of life of that woman who works at the Tim Horton‘s down the street and can’t count change to save her life, but is still happy.

There can be no more halves.
There can be no more imbalance.
There can be no more corners.
Me will mean me.

I will be I.

[PAIN]

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THE TEARS OF MOO

My life is the dream that everyone wants, and no one cares to admit. I have a wonderful home, I have a great family, and I have a beautiful baby girl who sleeps through the night without pain, or effort. My shower has a setting that drenches me with $100 bills; and I use the bills that don’t come out wet to light my cigars when I sit in front of my Citizen Kane sized fireplace dreaming about what my next conquest will be.

That is of course the dream that everyone wants right?

My reality is somewhat different. My daugther (The Moo) is ill with Infant Gastroesophageal Reflux Disease (GERD), so for the most part nights are sleepless, and The Moo is in more pain than anything that small should be; my relationship with J is mostly buggered due to our attentions being focused solely on the infant; I live in a shitty top floor duplex apartment with very loud and noisy neighbours–on whom I’ve called the police twice; and I’m lucky if I find a single $10 bill in my wallet these days. Touché jeeves.

To me however the only thing that really matters are the moments when The Moo is in pain. She is a riot otherwise. She’s cute, she’s cudly, and she’s a happy baby when she’s not feeling the bitter sting of reflux and stomach contents. She’s on medication–Losec–that she takes once a day that is difficult to administer who’s side effects seem to be taking their toll on her. Quite a lot for a 6 month old to be dealing with, and yet when I think about the other people who’s children have congenital diseases remedied only by surgery at even younger ages, and I go…yeah, it’s not so bad after all.

My wife and I barely sleep, though I must admit I sleep longer than she only because I go to work in the morning. The majority of the time my wife is up with the Moo all night because the reflux causes The Moo to have somnia interruptus–she sleeps only in 45 minute chunks. Then she plays for 2 hours. To which the pediatrician reacts with a wagging finger meaning decidedly not normal.

So we with either hold her all night–more particularly J does–and we soothe her, and care for her as best we can. We don’t go out. We don’t see family. We don’t see friends. We hang out in doctor’s offices and emergency rooms. We keep our apartment like a tornado went through it, hoping that it serves to invite one–just to break up the monotony of it all. As a result we are miserably non existent, and terribly off course. With exception to work, and work people, human contact is absent. My wife’s human contact is far less as it includes only myself and the Moo.

We continue the path of treatment knowing that she can will grow out of it, and with each passing day we wish and pray and need for this to all go away sooner, so we might have some semblance of life with a happy baby…look forward to those happy times…create happy memories of youth. I bought a video camera for Christmas to record the Moo’s first one. Instead it’s used to shoot video of her sleeping at night so we can show the pediatrician. Any remaning element of fun that we once had in our lives is gone, squandered, lost…only to return once the Moo’s ailments yield either to age or medication.

We are now beyond the meds. The peds want tests tests and tests to confirm or deny the presence of aliens, bacteria, small larvae, intestinal malformation/rotation, and/or acid reflux (GERD). We will see. We continue to hope. We always wait…sometimes silently, other times with tears…

A horrifying waiting game this has become, with almost no end in sight. Yet then each day I come home and I see the tower of strength that is J. That she is the one who holds it all together, and without her interaction in both the Moo’s and my life this just wouldn’t be holding together. Thankfully matters of the heart do not only rely on me, since my heart has grown weak, and my body has aged faster than it should.

J is the light at the end of our tunnel. And with time (we both know) the Moo will become more like a regular child, and the tests tests and tests will subside…as will the pain…as will the screaming…as will the insomnia…

And the tears of moo I collect from the Moo in the cup of my hand. There they will stay until the pain leaves her and the sun comes out to dry them away. Then we will be a family free to be a family like we have never had the chance before.

[PAIN]