Friday, February 27, 2009

Duly got to the club. Much more crowded than on Sundays, but the blaring musak was almost pleasant.The shower is , I realised, particularly pleasant because the water comes out well above my head, whereas, at home, the nozzle is just above my shoulder, or seems that way. There was less steam than usual and I stayed in for about six minutes. Also the sauna was cooler.

There is a fairly common mantra, which I use when I see some thing, (or person), particularly lovely. It came spontaneously to my mind when I saw tonight's sunset through racing clouds. Do not theists praise the Lord for such beauty? What really is the difference between what we are doing?

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

This darned ice. It's a real menace. The nice nursing students supervisor at work had quite a black eye. When we were alone I asked her about. She had slipped on uneven snow and ice in front of her house and bruised her hands and legs as well. She said, giggling, that it had happened on Valentine's day and her husband had refused to take her to the restaurant they had planned on, as people would assume she was an abused wife. They saw Slumdog Millionaire instead.

I came home by train and was deliberately holding onto the rail, as I went down the stairs off the platform. People rush on these stairs and in the tunnel to the car park side of the tracks for reasons I have never understood. Two or three steps from the bottom, the woman in front of me stumbled. She lurched forward and regained her balance on the floor of the tunnel. Crying out, she lost it again and fell, hitting her head against the bottom of the wall. Someone knelt down and asked if there was anyone she could call. The victim mumbled half sarcastically "How about 911?". Within about twenty seconds two nurses had materialised and what they really needed was space, so I said so to some of my fellow starers and left.

It's not just the ice. After all this accident was not on icy stairs, although they are always wet and heavily salted, but it's also big, bulky coats and gloves and the whole frustration of having to suit up to go outside.

The nice nurse supervisor at work and I discussed how often older people actually die as a result of falls and how, from our age onwards, our balance deteriorates.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

This is for one of the wonders of God's creation, (as an atheist, I can say that with admiration, but without fear of exaggeration).

1. I hope Mr Wilberforce is well out of the way.

2. Death, (I think), is the privilege, which gives humans the incentive to realise eternity in certain moments, including, it is thought, in the moments before, during and after breathing has ceased.

PS I wrote a much longer version of this, but it got wiped out, or, rather I wiped it out, because this keyboard is critically different from the others I use. Oh dear.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

Long ramble, only worth reading by me


It snowed here in the last few days. The ground, in many places, was covered with hard, dimpled ice. I walked slowly, taking short steps, with great fear of slipping. It was very cold, especially in the early morning.
I have only taken the train twice this month. I get an invigorating, brisk walk down Jarvis to Queen. I often get my favourite seat on the streetcar and, although it is long, I don't have to change. I frequently fall asleep out of sheer boredom. I must find or buy an USB cable and load some new music on the MP3 player. It is astonishing how many of my fellow travellers have them. But the cars get full quite quickly, people step on my feet or bump me with their bags. As with much poverty there is, as the song says, a persuasive undercurrent of violence. Given my status, these are my people. I'm rather below the right status on the train.
The streetcar short turned at Kipling the other night. Short turning, decided after the trip has begun is the single most annoying thing the TTC can do and I often think I should write them about it. On family day, Monday last, I had to work. I took the train to Islington, but two buses were cancelled, so I had to walk from Islington and Lakeshore. This was not so bad, as I phoned home and Matthew agreed to come and get me. As I waited I saw a most magnificently clear sun setting and lighting up the whole Lakeshore west of me in a wonderful pink/orange light. A hands down fabulous picture. As I looked at it, I heard a frightful bang and turned to see a pedestrian, who had just been hit by a car running the red light, its driver possibly blinded by the sun. The pedestrian was standing and screaming with pain. The driver was lucky not to have killed him.
Poor people, as on the streetcar, (and they are already richer than the ones who can't afford to ride), are competitive with each other. We race for premium seats, old people are frequently not offered seats, the line up to get on is as scattered as it might be in Curacao or Hong Kong, nevertheles, I smile at people and they often smile back, babies and dogs get plenty of attention and there is a sort of camaraderie that comes out of sharing the experience. By contrast, the train is much more comfortable, very fast, but socially snooty. They make me feel like a Caliban for blowing my nose or eating a sandwich. I once smiled at a woman, whom I had seen every morning and evening for a few weeks and she looked at me then and at other times as if I were a well known railway rapist. I know that is, as they say, her problem, but it now makes me awkward as we travel in the same section, both being keen to be near our exits.
I used to take the College car a relatively short distance, but the occupants may have worked at the University or in the hospitals on University Avenue and many got off for the train at Yonge to go to downtown offices, so it was only when I moved to the suburb that I noticed a whole caste difference between train riders and the streetcar crowd.
Now, at work, they would say that I only notice these things because I am English. They take great pleasure in ragging me about that and about my privileged education. Work is going supremely well. I enjoy what I do. I have carved out a kind of niche employment and we have very lively discussions both at lunch, which we have in the office together and a bit less so at the daily group meeing first thing. I work with two teams and love the variety as well as my shorter days.
Every morning I sleep walk my way to College and Yonge, wake up in Starbucks, and take the long way across the park from Sherbourne and College, just as I used to when I lived on Clinton. I lose an extra hour travelling every day. How long is this piece? Too long, and I probably should not discuss my class observations in public, but I think I will. Generally, "je m'en fiche", is working better for me than, "Perhaps I shouln't".

Thursday, February 19, 2009

An intellectual Buddhist hippy, (there were lots of those around in the early seventies), told me when I first arrived from Europe that the native people of North America respected certain "power places". Nelson, British Columbia was such a place, he said. Surely Yosemite must have been one too?

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Oh, oh, can we go there, can we go there?

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Here comes the sun... actually one more snow storm is coming our way, but winter is definitely on the run and we will soon be in flower heaven. This time next year I shall be thinking about what to do when I retire later in the year.

I knew a woman called Aurora once. Aurora Borialis sounds like Aurora of the trees. There she is, in all her splendour, swinging like Mrs Tarzan from vine to vine, bellowing how beautiful she is as she goes. And I, a weedy pink mortal, come out of my tent, awakened by the noise, but I see nothing except the disturbed leaves flickering down from on high. Something is happening, but I don't know what it is. Yes my name is Mr Jones.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

I am at the extreme fitness club. Would you like to join? I get a free trip[ for two to Las Vegas, if you do. Don't. Once you sign up, you think you'll try it for a year at some bargain price and you don't realise how difficult it is not to pay for the rest of your life. Probably your heirs pay too.

I am meeting my best friend for lunch. He prefers to remain a non e mouse

Saturday, February 14, 2009

Friday, February 13, 2009

I am thinking of killing off Marc Aurel and starting a new blog in my own name. Maybe this is not such a good idea. Much as I love and admire my fellow bloggers, it is convenient that I know that no one knows me well enough to turn up on our doorstep, or inundate me with letters of dubious solicitation.

I was an actor for years and it is particularly pleasing for me to change from time to time. Usually the fashion of my facial hair, although I almost always have some hair on my face. So it is with blogs. Since I have, as it were, invented Marc Aurel, I get bored of him, even though in blogland I really am him.

I've started a new blog, but I will not show it for a while, but what I will do is tell you how the name came about.

I have always assumed that some observant film buff would some day write me, "Ah yes, of course, the name of the cafe where Holly Martin is set up to trap Harry Lime in "The Third man". It is not my favourite scene in that favourite of all the films I have seen, but it is the climax when the four main characters are all present...."Sir, sir, he's out the back."

My favourite scene starts in Anna's bedroom. As he talks, Holly tries to engage the cat's attention. Zither music haunts the whole scene and soon we see that same cat outside warming to the legs of an un-identified man standing in a doorway outside. In the eighties, I recorded all the scenes which are scored onto a cassette. On the other side was the authentically unfinished recording of Mozart's famous requiem on reproductions of original instruments. I was a car courier and got to know both recordings really well.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

This is the digital version of the wonderful Rolleiflex. I have a cheaper version, but in the same format. Two and a quarter inch square pictures on emulsion film. First it was hard to get that size processed, then even harder to find a lab that would develop black and white film. But Oh the joys of standing over a tripod, framing the picture with the help of the cross hairs, choosing shutter speed and aperture and then finally releasing the shutter's spring, not at all sure how much the picture would come out the way I had imagined it. It felt like something between an art and a craft.
Now, with a modern camera, I just point the camera, look at what I have just shot and shoot it again until I get what I want. Later I can choose from hundreds of shots instead of twelve per roll, and picture edit the shots again . It's just not photography anymore. It should simply be called "Digital picture capture".

Monday, February 9, 2009

Full moon tonight, but I cannot see it. Can you?

Sunday, February 8, 2009

Stop in the name of love
Before you brake my heart

(You can't go far on this street without slowing down)

Saturday, February 7, 2009

I've just learned from the remarkable new teaching tool, tele-vision, that, when armies overran castles, they often dug under the walls, causing them to cave in and tumble down. This was called"slighting", or sometimes more prosaically, "under mining". One of England best preserved castle built by Edward the first was, in fact never finished and so no one ever bothered to destroy it. He was a great castle innovator and builder, having just returned from the crusades, on which trip he saw many new designs for these edifices. And that will suffice for today's lesson.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Oh Mister Lincoln, what big hands you have.

Is anyone else having trouble with their blogs? I have a private blog, actually a real log. I can edit the posts, but I see nothing when I view them and "view blog" produces a blank page. I've had this problem for about a week.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Click on this to enlarge.

Apart from the metro entrances, there are all sorts of remnants in Paris of the great Art Nouveau movemnt around the time of the great exhibition. This mosaic firm is still a going concern. I wonder who commissions mosaics these days.

I've been much comforted recently by something I sometimes forget to do every night as I lie in the dark before falling asleep. I thought Cathy gave it to me, but she forgets. Anyway, I go through ten things that I am grateful for that have happened earlier that day. It's sometimes hard to think of all ten, but I'm getting better at it.

Yesterday, I was so worried that my new plan of getting up later, (since I am experimenting with taking public transit all the way into town), that I got up early, thinking I was half an hour late, called in to my boss's answering machine and only realised on the streetcar that it was still rather too dark and that I was a full hour and a half early for work. I was so tired all day, that I actually fell asleep at the daily meeting and again on the streetcar going home. Last night I got to bed early and slept in late. Still got to work with ten minutes to spare.

Necrotising Faceitis is the new terror at work. A very few of our clients have had it. I took a suspected case to hospital today and noted that we were all careful not to touch him without gloves. He is the same man whom I took to hospital and exclaimed "Jesus" (in the catholic hospital), when I saw a deep hole in his leg. He is largely indifferent to his medical problems. His only worry is when he will get his next smoke. He reminds me strongly of Mario in his go-kart in the video games of ten years ago.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

My first apartment.

Back during my Roman period, these guys built apartment buildings of brick and rented out rooms and small apartments called INSULI. I wonder if that is, in fact, where "insular", comes from. I got one of these in Ostia, which was much better preserved because, as we moved out, swamps took over and they didn't build other towns over mine. The late, great, (actually a very petty tyrant), Benito Mussel Man was the first to drain those swamps for, I suppose, the glory of Rome. I am secretly glad he got the trains to run on time and rejuvenated, (does that come from Juvenal?), all those Roman artifacts. I mean ancient Rome was probably a nasty place, built on the degradation and exploitation of lands further afield, but their architectonical detailing was something wonderful, wasn't it?

I close with Palladio.

Sunday, February 1, 2009

We just got a new High Definition TV. I think, as everyone gets it, it is going to change the media of what we see. Already we can see wrinkles, spots, skin blemishes and too much makeup that we did not notice before. Why is Brad Pitt wearing pancake and lip gloss to be interviewed? Gosh, I did not realise our familiar news reader was so old. On the other hand these men against, (or with), the forces of nature let us into their very selves, as we see them distinctly, warts, sweat and all. But the big change is going to be movies on TV. We watched one of our favourite films, "Oh Brother Where Art Thou?". So I had seen it before, maybe more than once, soon after it came out and we are very familiar with the music, which we often play on a CD. Nevertheless, I could not stop seeing the mechanics of each scene, the sets, the lighting, now the camera was tracking, now the actors had just been waiting for the directors to call "Action!". It did not take away from my enjoyment of the film, but I was not involved in the story. I still laughed and cried, but I knew I was watching a produced product, I was no longer immersed in the story. Some films have already caught up. Slumdog Millionaire was, I gather, shot in Digital HD with shots from photographic still cameras added. They took over three months to edit it and the result is quite unlike any other film I have ever seen. There is almost an assault of words, pictures and music, which give me a fuller picture not only of the story, which is quite simple, but also a running documentary on life in India. Rather than too little audiovisual, there is often too much, so that I am forced to open my eyes and ears wider and, at times, determine that I will catch something half missed on a later viewing. On TV only 30 Rock has found a similar enthusiasm from me.