EDWISE 

EDITOR AND EDUCATION CONSULTANT

Opposition to Kaliwa, Kanan & Laiban Dams

Today March 14 is the international day of action for rivers and against large dams. Today also marks the first week since the "Bloody Sunday" operations of the Philippine National Police (PNP) and the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) in CALABARZON region. Among the nine (9) individuals that were killed in the simultaneous operation are Randy Dela Cruz and Puroy Dela Cruz who are Dumagat indigenous people (IP).

     Their communities are affected by the construction of large dams in Rizal and Quezon provinces - the Kaliwa, Laiban and Kanan dams.

Puroy and Randy are also members of Dumagat Sierra Madre opposed to the ongoing Kaliwa Low Dam project which the government is implementing despite the absence of free prior informed consent (FPIC) and other requirements by the Department of Environment and Natural Resources.

Prior to the Bloody Sunday massacre, the Dumagat communities are constantly subjected to threat, intimidation, and red-tagging due to their unwavering commitment to defend their ancestral land against large dams.

     Currently, fear and terror are haunting the communities of Dumagat in Rizal as their communities have been heavily militarized since the incident. Families and supporters of the murdered IPs are struggling to raise resources to finance the funeral needs.

     We, the Network Opposed to Kaliwa, Kanan, Laiban Dams (NOtoKKLD) appeals for continued calls for Justice for Puroy Dela Cruz and Randy Dela Cruz and for the other activists, development workers, environmental & human rights defenders that have died in the hands of AFP and PNP. An impartial, thorough, and speedy investigation should be carried to determine irregularities and prosecute authorities that have abused their power.

Financial support for this campaign is also welcome, you may use the following accounts BPI: Charmane Jay Maranan (0919233249), GCASH: PAMELLA HORNILLA (09163258140), PAYPAL: CASEYANNECRUZ

Justice for the Victims of Agent Orange

Veterans for Peace (VFP) e-news, March 23, 2021:

"Sixty years ago, the United States used approximately 19 million gallons of 15 different herbicides, including 13 million gallons of Agent Orange, over southern Vietnam, Cambodia, and Laos. Between 2.1 and 4.8 million Vietnamese were exposed during the spraying and many more continue to be exposed through the environment. Agent Orange exposure continues to negatively affect the lives of men and women in Vietnam and in the United States."


VFP hosted a webinar on the lingering aftermath of the despicable use of agent orange by the US military since the 19602. In this powerful panel, Hoan Thi Tran and Heather Bowser talked about their personal stories as disabled children of parents who were exposed to the toxic compound agent orange. A defoliant deliberately mixed strong enough to kill people, the US said it used agent orange to clear jungles where it suspected Vietcong forces were hiding. The US Army Chemical Corps and the Flying Crews were charged with the task. It was poured over people, too. US personnel ordered to spray it in many areas succumbed to illness as did Vietnamese people. Not only did they suffer from cancers and other diseases such as Parkinson’s, their children and grandchildren suffered deformities and illnesses, too. Jonathan Moore discussed the U.S. legal cases around Agent Orange, and Tricia Euvard cited the current lawsuit in France. Susan Schnall laid out the broad health effects of Agent Orange, and Paul Cox briefly described and weighed the legislation on Agent Orange that U.S. Congresswoman Barbara Lee would soon introduce. This webinar also occurred in conjunction with the recent release of the powerful new film “The People Vs. Agent Orange.”


In 1960, the United Nations passed a resolution to create a treaty against chemical weapons because of discoveries of damage related to their toxins to all people, animals and plants. The use of agent orange was a violation of this treaty and international law, and as such, a war crime.


The struggle to get justice for this monolithic crime continues. Tracking the history, we can see how costly the use of agent orange has been in terms of life and dollars. The US Agent Orange Act of 2005 assigned some compensation totaling $75 billion to US military veterans. Though the US government cannot be sued, there have been lawsuits against chemical companies. Many litigation cases by US veterans and non-resident aliens have been dismissed. The US military and government claim the effects of agent orange were unexpected “collateral damage” rather than intentional harm. However, it has been shown that the level of dioxin in the mixture sold to the US military was designed to cause death.


The effects of agent orange are still being studied and learned. For instance, hypothyroidism, Parkinson’s, bladder cancer and other illnesses have been known as consequences of exposure, though not officially recognized until 2021.


Veterans and their allies persist in educating the public about the true crimes of US wars. VFP reported on one historic action in its e-news release of April 6, 2021.

"Many veterans came home from Vietnam with a mission: to tell the truth about the wartime atrocities being committed and demand an immediate end to the killing. In April 1971, a group of more than 1,000 veterans launched the Dewey Canyon III operation, a ‘limited incursion into the land of Congress.’ April 23 marked the 50th anniversary of one of the most influential anti-war actions of the era."


VFP and the University of Notre Dame’s Keough School of Global Affairs hosted an online forum about this operation and the lessons it offers on April 23. 

Unsolved Missing Persons

I have been learning a lot about unsolved missing persons in the US, Australia and Canada in the past three weeks. My main source has been the CanAm Missing Project and the video series tagged "Missing 411" of the said project, which is run by policing expert, researcher and author David Paulides and his team. (Beware impostor videos.) See the website called canammissing.com and the CanAm Missing Project channel on Youtube. David Paulides has composed a series of books covering different regions and victim profiles as well as two feature-length documentary films. Over 1200 of these cases have been uncovered so far and the books and movies highlight many of them.


The cases that this Project examines are unexplained mysteries. Criminal causes have been excluded. Urban cases are not considered; the project looks into rural cases, many in national parks and national forests but sometimes near a village or even on the fringes of a metropolitan area. These people have simply disappeared, often without a trace. It has always happened to individuals walking alone. They can be any age, but the missing includes alpha males and females with high levels of education, such as physicists and physicians, who are usually experienced in the outdoors, well equipped and very fit. Some are seasoned hunters or active/ former military or paramilitary personnel. No case has turned up in which the victim was carrying a transponder (aka personal locator beacon) and a firearm. There are no witnesses to the disappearances; people in pairs or groups do not go missing in this way. (There is one exception, a father-daughter pair.) Most of these missing persons are of European descent, though some European visitors and local people of other ethnic origins have disappeared. (There could be a simple cultural explanation for this, in this blog writer's view. Who most likely hunts or hikes through back country?) The youngest case is age 20 months and the oldest in the mid-80s. Some of the victims have physical disabilities. Some are poorly equipped. They do not disappear directly from shelters or cars; rather, they are always on foot outdoors and usually on known trails and roads. 


Sometimes human remains are found, the bodies having been displaced from the last site seen or point of departure from companions several days, weeks, months or years after the location of discovery had been thoroughly searched by expert rescuers and searchers numerous times. There are some survivors who are found either sleeping or unconscious, especially children, but who have no memory of the lapsed time and cannot explain what happened. (The CanAm Project does not discuss alien abductions accounts, though does refer to the research into alien abduction witnesses.) Discovered living or expired, the victims are often found in or beside bodies of water or at a much higher elevation away from the known or supposed route. Their shoes have always been removed, yet their feet are clean and show no significant injuries. Bodies are usually dry and clean without signs of assault. All or much of their clothing has been removed. Of the evidence, if any, that shows up sooner or later, it is the shoes, flung here and there or set neatly in the open; other articles of clothing may turn up in strange locations, which never show any indication of animal predation--no blood, hair, lacerations and such. Autopsies have detected high levels of GHB (gamma-hydroxybutyrate) in the bloodstream of a few of the deceased. HOW?! Most autopsy reports cannot conclude a cause of death. If a cause is cited, it may be challenged as implausible.


Another noteworthy aspect: these type of missing persons cases have been carefully mapped out. Mapping has revealed clusters of missing cases spanning over a century. There are large and small clusters in most states of the US and in the provinces of British Columbia and Ontario in Canada. Sheesh, there is a cluster pegged in a mountain area I can see from my home in the Greater Vancouver area in BC!--Seymour Mountain. A little farther away is another, Eagle Mountain Park! These are popular recreational areas in provincial parks. There are no clusters in the central North American continent where large bodies of water are few and mountains absent. There are clusters in the Blue Mountains and the outskirts of Melbourne, in the states of New South Wales and Victoria in Australia. Indigenous people ("Amerindians" in the US) have been interviewed; they recount ancient lore and contemporary stories of strange disappearances and sightings among them. There are some places they do not roam. Also, sites of the missing frequently have local names with the word "Devil" in them! How and why such names?!


State park and forests authorities likely reluctant to divulge data and opinions on the matter, the Paulides team has tracked down search and rescue, police and news documents, and interviewed 100s of associates of victims or survivors themselves. More information comes to David Paulides directly from his readers and viewers who have even more stories to share, even stories about similar situations in other countries. He believes that the parks officials are withholding information, particularly lists of the missing within park boundaries. Officials such as those at Yosemite National Park, the place with the largest cluster of missing people!, deny having any knowledge of missing people and defy the law in refusing to comply with Freedom of Information Act requests. There are indications that somebody knows something, as FBI agents have been seen at search sites for no apparent reason. 


Indeed, the whole business is shrouded with mystery and intriguing yet frightening implications. In fact, many witnesses and observers in the cluster areas have strange tales to tell: flashes and great orbs of bright lights, bone chilling howls and chatter in the darkness, bigfoot sightings, shadows, UFOs, inexplicable parting grasses and branches, the sense of being watched and odd sounds such as flute music, voices out of nowhere, the thunder of stampeding horses or cattle and loud snaps and bangs. 


David Paulides does not publicly offer any explanation. He likes to provide facts, relay what people have to say from experience and what experts say based on scientifically informed consideration. However, he does conclude that there is an obvious pattern. Therefore, everyone should be aware of the danger.


David Paulides does not recommend everyone stay home. He himself is a self-professed avid hiker and camper. He never tells anyone not to enter state parks and forests. Rather, he provides some safety tips for those desiring to continue to enjoy the outdoors away from urban life. #1 is never go alone! Don't allow yourself or any companion to be alone even for an instant! #2 is carry proper equipment, even if you plan a short day-hike: a locator beacon, a phone/ GPS gadget, a paper map, a loud whistle, a compass, first aid supplies, extra food and clothing, a waterproof lightweight blanket, a garbage bag for rain and so on, and plenty of water. (Drinking from local water sources except true springs can make you terribly ill!) He strongly recommends that those licensed to carry them and trained to use them take their weapon and extra rounds. For one thing, firearm is a loud noisemaker. However, Everything can fit into a lightweight, waterproof backpack with hip straps. Of course, there are jackets and vests with large pockets. Finally, dress for the weather and wear comfortable, protective footwear. Once you have gathered together this stuff, you will feel more secure about any eventuality and be most able to protect yourself. 


In my view, it is worth the trouble. I have been a local hiker, myself, and know that it is easy to get lost, get tired, hungry and dehydrated, or have an injury. Moreover, the weather can change suddenly and dramatically, especially in mountainous and coastal areas. I would add that hiking/ climbing and camping in the wilderness is no time to use substances including alcohol, although I know many (yahoos and city dudes) out there like to imbibe. It will just add to your risks and trouble.


Personally, I am of an age now when I avoid regular high-impact activities as my knees are already showing signs of wear. That's why I only do short hikes in urban/ urban edges settings. I do those alone as the areas are very safe and many people are around. I have belonged to hiking groups and have many wonderful memories and stories from those times. Yes, I have trekked serious mountain trails alone, but only twice. The power of the natural forces around me become too real and intimidating to venture further. I know my lack of training. I have started out on a solo trek in the coastal and Cascades Mountains (the latter a danger area, according to Paulides!) for up to an hour, never able to relax, the whole time feeling that something bad could happen. Heck, I passed over fresh bear tracks, stood on a precipice overlooking a valley with serious mountains and threatening dark clouds in the distance. I sensed all the unknowns and the millions of years of evolution which have unleashed power I cannot comprehend to either push up or tear down tall peaks, create valleys and deep lakes, etc. I must respect it all. I for one do recommend that most people stay close to home, leave the wildlife and wilderness unharmed and be with what you are raised and able to be with.


Community Celebrations

Various community and grassroots organizations have been featuring celebrations online. I have watched a few unusual but very endearing ones over the past few months. Some of them were put together by my friends and associates.


Gung Haggis Fat Choy, a play on the Lunar New Year greeting in Hong Kong Cantonese, Gung Hay Fat Choy, this annual events combines a Robbie Burns Dinner with Canadian Scottish and Chinese heritage. Robbie Burns, a romantic Scottish nationalist and poet, was born close to the time of Lunar New Year. This event promotes the truth of history and multiculturalism.  There are bag pipe players, poets, singers and speakers.https://www.facebook.com/WORDvancouver/videos/483912249435238


Cuba Solidarity Festival - Cuban cultural authorities and musicians planned an online concert to give thanks to North American Cuba solidarity activists. This concert boasts some expert jazz performers in Cuba, the US and Canada. There are a few words of solidarity, but most of this video is fantastic music.  For Cuba! For Solidarity! International Concert Against the U.S. Blockade on Cuba!

https://www.facebook.com/watch/?v=1017433785335802


I am a member of a politically relevant and active choir based in my area. The Solidarity Notes Choir reached its 20th year of learning and singing songs for social justice and peace last year. For this occasion, we made a video to show its history and role. We are now rebuilding and rejuvenating this choir to ensure its future. Check it out! https://mail.google.com/mail/u/1/#trash/FMfcgxwLscxRBtflJKJxNdRxdCFBDnNz?projector=1 


Finally, here is a concert recorded at a Vancouver cafe in 2017. It features my chum's group, the South Vancouver Big Band. Very professional.

https://www.facebook.com/southvanbigband/videos/616173629357459 





New Things

We here value the big and the little, for the little may be bigger than you think. As I consider how I am doing so far this year, I therefore reflect on all new experiences and all events in my life and what I have been witnessing adjacent to my life.


Verging on feeling gloomy again and noticing my body get a little stiffer in recent weeks, I found a new exercise routine. It is a 10-minute series of 9 movements which can be expanded over a longer period. I found this set on a Youtube channel of two aging physiotherapists who provide tips to the 50+ age group. The exercises are geared for people at any fitness level and many can even be done while sitting. I am in pretty good shape for my age, having always been physically active in one way or another, so I expand on the harder elements such as the squats, push-ups and arm pulls. I like having a short yet expandable series as I find some routines get monotonous. With some brief movements that can be done any time of the day without necessarily changing clothes or showering, I am more apt to performing them most days. Of course, I get outside to roam around, often incorporating errands into the promenades, as an alternative. This winter in my region has been exceptionally rainy and dark, though, so I needed to get in motion with indoor activities. (I don't usually go for a few weeks without some pointed exercise because I start feeling too uncomfortable to tolerate the inactivity.)


I resumed library use last week. I "checked out" an e-book and downloaded it from my local library for the first time ever. I also went online to put one of its books on hold. Just picked it up this morning, which was the first time I had entered a library in close to a year!


I have been sampling e-books using my mobile device while in transit. Travel and long waits are the occasions when I am most likely to read. I had not been reading on the bus as I ride the buses so little these days.


I came across some great advice while sampling a motivational book. It is written from a "positive thinking" perspective. "Sometimes you Win, Sometimes you Learn" by John C. Maxwell is available from the Google Playbook Store for $3. Maxwell's main message is to expect more losses than wins and use losses as opportunities to learn and grow. Not an uncommon viewpoint, but he has his own way of arguing and interesting types of examples. What I wish to underscore here is his roadmap for learning. He writes a whole chapter on each place in the map.  As an educator, I see it as a philosophy for learning in an context. I quote his map here.

             Humility: the Spirit of Learning

             Reality: the Foundation of Learning

             Responsibility: the First Step of Learning

             Improvement: the Focus of Learning

             Hope: the Motivation of Learning

             Teachability: the Pathway of Learning

             Adversity: the Catalyst for Learning

             Problems: Opportunities for Learning

             Bad Experience: the Perspective for Learning

             Change: the Price of Learning

             Maturity: the Value of Learning

Pretty good. I'll let you stew on it. I have already devoted months of this blog on positive thinking as applied to aging and addressing problems; in fact, that was the premise for this blog back in the winter of 2013/14, as many of you readers know.


My skills at writing and using technologies for communication have thrived since I started this blog. I've been using iPads for teaching, for instance. I am getting better at using Vistaprint's new platform and blog entering procedures. Again, I regret the long delay in catching on and keeping up the blogging.


Speaking of teaching, I have been teaching beginner French totally online for the first time. What else is new with me? Hmm. I boiled and ate purple potatoes for the first time yesterday. Taste is similar to that of Russets. 


Speaking of food, I have been trying new seed mixes for the wild birds on my block who feed at my porch. I now have two hanging, cylindric seed feeders along with two hanging suet "cages." Lots of little birdies including some new visitors have been gobbling up my offerings. The type of bird feed in my area is limited and costly, though, so I have been experimenting with stuff off the supermarket shelves and making my own recipes. The corn meal base mixture passed. Today I provided a formula of uncooked human cereal and rice combined with chopped peanuts and sunflowers. So far, so good. It is a job keeping the greedy and messy starlings away to prevent them from spilling a lot of it and eating too much too fast.


The resident flocks of brown and black chickadees and the juncos are regulars from dawn to dusk. The local towhees, flickers, nuthatches and Eastern (Lincoln?) sparrows appear every day, too. The newest species visiting my porch are a few pairs of house finches, up to 20 siskins and a couple of delightful kinglets. 


I have come to know the species well enough to feel confident about identifying and tracking them during the formal annual bird counts. I participated in the Cornell (ornithology) Lab's annual North America, February count for the first time ever. It was a great experience! It happened to snow the weekend of the count, but I enjoyed trekking around, binoculars and notebook in had, regardless. I took a little time out on three days: first, I just observed the activity at my balcony, before walking neighbourhood streets the next day and winding up on a walk through residential areas to a small shopping plaza. A couple of extraordinary things occurred during those times. Making my return to my place near the end of my first outdoors count, the area robins returned! I found most resting together in a couple trees while a few ventured into gardens to forage through the snow. I counted about 40 robins. Another fantastic sight was the sudden arrival of around 60 Herring Gulls to the shopping centre. They were following a woman through the parking lot. I had never seen such a situation before. However, I noticed many gulls circling over the park next to the shopping centre as I passed by in a bus this morning; on my return trip an hour later, I spotted that woman taking things out of her bags and cart to feed to the gulls, all of whom were rather patiently standing around her for their bites of the goodies. My role in this national count was uplifting. I think I'll do it again. There is another national count in May.


We are two months into 2021 already. The spring equinox will soon pass us by. Better not to be impatient for the spring and the sun, but to relish time every day.


pushing democracy

I've been watching an online forum put on by some British revolutionaries. After showing a documentary on the Cuba medical system's response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the forum participants have been discussing the implications for the British medical system's response to the pandemic. One key conclusion that arose from this discussion is the accusation of "social murder." The speaker who raised this concept quoted a recently published article in the British Journal of Medicine that quotes Frederick Engels (Karl Marx's close associate in building revolutionary theory and action programming). It was Engel's who first used the term "social murder", which he generally intended to mean the deliberate neglect of sectors of the population to the point where thousands of people die because of lack of intervention where and when there could have been state intervention. The speaker underlined the state's preference in choosing "the economy" over people, which of course means, in the type of economy Europe had in his day and still has now, choosing to keep profits for a privileged minority rolling in rather than rolling out medical and social assistance to the general population. The speaker referring to this term "social murder" rightly called attention to the BJM article as "very remarkable." He described the article as a scathing criticism of the NHS of the UK's lack of action to protect the whole population from COVID-19. It means scientists and physicians believe that the state and corporations are directly responsible for genocide. WOW! I think the authors, editors and the publishers of the article, and the readers that support it, are correct. Many of the forum participants engaging in the post-video viewing discussion pointed to factual circumstances that provide evidence to support the cries of "social murder." They spoke to the government's limp response at the onset of the pandemic in the UK when PM Johnson and company basically told the populace to wash their hands and be careful, but that life would be business as usual (expression deliberate by this blog's author). They also highlighted the lack of planned pandemic management and the failure to have a response ready to begin with. The underscored the extreme reluctance to close down any businesses. They spoked to the lack of quarantine support, testing and PPE distribution. In short, authorities allowed the pandemic to flourish to the point where today over 100,000 people are expiring every day, and where an extensive lockdown has been imposed as a last minute thought. They talked about overcrowded housing where the poorest live, the lack of financial support for the folks who need it the most and the absence of planning to keep children connected and involved in the classroom with special measures and in reduced classroom sizes. The forum participants revealed how many among the Brits are fuming and devastated by the existing predicament, how teachers, social workers, factory workers and others are anguished and furious. This is a condition in which, as one of the speakers suggested, where conspiracy theories and reactionary thinking can thrive, adding another dimension of danger to the mix. The situation is paralleled in the US, Canada, many European and Latin American countries, sadly. The only way forward is for people to act to take care of their communities at the grassroots level. Waiting for the government to rescue everyone never resolves things. People must push democracy from the ground up. Legal and parliamentary measures must be attempted, of course, but the most powerful and therefore important response must come directly from the majority of the working people and oppressed themselves. Discussions, exchanges of info and ideas, support group formation, political mobilization and coordination, street protests, alternative peoples' media and such must get into action. This is how basic change can and will transpire. It is how it did in Cuba, for example.

Blog

Just peace: my 2017 in review

Posted on January 1, 2018 at 3:41 PM Comments comments (7)
Keeping in tune with positive thinking, I will review the past year of my life. (I have not come to any summary of the political world of 2017 yet.) In sum, it was a time of successful growth and more new experiences.

The biggest thing, of course, was packing up my life in Korea, moving to Canada and creating a new home. That was a major transition; hence, the theme of my blog in 2017, which started out, by the way, on my 60th birthday.  Well prepared and optimistic, I made a smooth transition. I carried through the steps of landing regular employment and settling into a long-term living arrangement.

I arrived with a temporary living arrangement set up in a friend's home and  was soon rooming in a kind of boarding house as I extended the employment search. Within a short period, I got a bit lucky when I was offered a lease with soft and affordable terms for a decent apartment. I got regular part-time teaching and full-time summer relief work, with a little editing on the side. Though I'd had to reach into my stashed resettlement funds, by November, I had begun teaching in a new institute with a timetable substantial enough to cover the monthly bills.

Living and livelihood basically taken care of, I was able to pay more attention to social groups, activism and family matters. I rejoined a singing group and the dragon boat club. They involve social activities and political causes in addition to their main foci. I thus reconnected with colleagues, friends and associates, making new friends and associations along the way. I returned to local boating competitions and choir performances. 

What's more, I rejoined a local activist circle with the national and international connections I've been immersed in for several years. That has meant staying connected with activists and causes abroad, and those in south western BC and central Canada. Coming from human rights activism at an early stage some 20 years ago, 35 years of anti-war activism in Canada and overseas, and as certain tensions and military actions intensify around the world, my part in progressive activism has evolved to my present focus on just peace.

What  positive and new experiences did I have in 2017? 

Technology: I downloaded mobile phone apps, started using cloud software at work, bought a new laptop and got tech support with it, and extended the content, appearance and tools on my website. I also acquired a wide-screen, smart TV. As well, my phone has a new service plan with features new to me. Oh, yes--I also tried online dating, a little.

Family: With birthday and Christmas events recently, my relations with siblings and adult nieces and a nephew have developed. We've had some very enjoyable times together, we're planning more.

Romance: Though the online dating has bombed, I got out and tried it. Anyway, I've been getting to know single, eligible men through mutual friends and hobbies.

Health: I manage to keep my weight under control. After dragon boating, basic yoga routine, biking and hiking in the summer months, I found some symptoms of pre-arthritis stages, so I cut down the sportsy activities, even day-to-day walking. However, I seem to be adjusting. I can alter physical activities and pace them appropriately to avoid the inflated knee and sore appendages. For example, I have changed the exercises at home, and returned to some moderate walking from day to day. As an example of the walking, I sometimes walk the distance a few bus stops to catch a bus farther away, and walk around to do errands near my workplaces. I recently tried a session of curling for the second time in my life. I want to do some short hikes and get back on the bike when the weather is more conducive to outdoors exercise. 

Writing: After editing another academic article, I reviewed a novel for the first time. I just started editing another novel last week. Obviously, I have kept up the blogging and moved into a new theme for the current year. As for my creative writing, I've only written a couple of poems. I started a new non-fiction project, which is on hold at the moment.

Activism: I attended an international conference to build an anti-imperialist movement against wars of aggression, state repression and militarization last summer. I then created the petition opposed to a military solution to Korea and other conflicts, getting a few hundred signatures all on my own. For the 10th anniversary of the Great October Revolution in Russia, I worked with the local committee and coordinated the planning of a special event, which turned out to be a well-attended and informative occasion. I presented on a dual theme of socialist women and a stance against imperialist war in a presentation on Rosa Luxemberg's contributions. After building a network out of these activities, I just recently proposed a new committee to establish the Just Peace Movement in Greater Vancouver. There has been some positive response from people interested in pursuing this movement.




Transitioning-2018 theme of just peace

Posted on December 9, 2017 at 9:02 PM Comments comments (4)
The next phase of this blog begins around my birthday, which is next week. I have decided on the angle of "just peace" for the next phase of my blogging project. I explained my definition of just peace in the last entry. Now I want to explain how I intend to treat this subject, remain consistent and build on my previous themes of positive thinking/optimism and transition-making. 

I will still reflect and comment on the meaning of positive thinking, relate some of what is happening in my life, chew on the process and value of journal-writing as I tackle the problem of just peace. I will do so by employing a broad lens.

Using a broad lens, I'll be able to talk about the peace of the soul, peaceful family relations and other personal association, peace at work and in the community, as well as peace in the region and the actuality or threat of armed conflicts in terms of crimes against humanity and other crimes, aggression and domination in international relations. 

I'll argue for supporting struggles for peace in the name of saving life while promoting ways of life that ease suffering and enhance life. The struggle for peace will be framed as anti-imperialist struggle; from this angle, I'll not only protest military weaponry, spending and certain policies. I will speak against domination, aggression and the aim of conquest or regime-change when the people in one region do not request foreign intervention to assist them. I'll argue for intervention against true dictators that use state repression and political persecution in defiance of civil and human rights, and counter to democratic practice. For example, I would object to President Duterte's violent reign against the peoples in the Philippines, and the extra-judicial killings, methods of terror, and deceit. I would object to Israel's aggression against Palestine and its expansion into Palestinian territories and military policies and actions that carry or support these objectives.

Yeah, I'll be getting more specifically political. We must do that. I hope I arouse others to take political stands, even if they don't jive with mine. In this business of working toward peace, I hope to inspire, even unsettle the reader, to take action his/herself. We urgently need a large and broad-minded active movement of all sectors of the people working together on common causes with common aims, sharing the larger general aim of altering the course of human civilization toward new relations and concepts of global trade and values.

I can also use this approach to venture into questions concerning chauvinism and discrimination, and conflicts among factions within societies. I can address all the above through an understanding of imperialism with respect to politics, culture, economics and expansionism, the class system with its monopolies and patriarchal relations, and the exploitative nature of this system that is inherently violent.

I can also address environmental destruction wrought by imperialism and war. Military activities require vast amounts of energy, especially oil, and they often contaminate the air, ground and waters where they take place. They leave behind a lot of junk including marine and space junk, as do industrial monopolies, which they balk at cleaning up.

With a broad approach, I will develop my knowledge and skill at interpreting society in a positive way, with examples from my life and excerpts of my readings. I'll continue to share this kind of information and thought. I'll tackle problems on micro- and macro-scales. The main aim is contributing to efforts find a better way that enriches and eases the lives of the people. I will strive to be understanding and forward-looking.

Transitions - transitioning into a new theme

Posted on December 2, 2017 at 2:27 PM Comments comments (1)
This is the time of year when I make plans for the next phase of this blog. What will the "transitions" phase transition into? I look to my soul for that answer. The next theme emerges from the previous year's work and circumstances. 

The "Transitions" theme emerged from the circumstances of my quitting work in Korea and moving back to Canada just around my 60th birthday. I continued to build on the overall theme of positive thinking, but dwelt more specifically on becoming a senior, the intercontinental move, resettling and career development, aspects of my transition. The foundation of reflecting on positive thinking, and the goal-setting and adaptability it armed me with during the "Year of Living Positively" blogging in 2014, followed by the "Eye of the Optimist" blogging from 2015 to 2016, had prepared me well. My transition has been relatively positive, easy and smooth. I arrive at my next birthday with the questions of a new home and appropriate, regular professional work settled. I have made one transition and am shifting into another: transition into the life of a senior in Canada, which inevitably leads to retirement from regular, paid employment. 

In the interim, I still have some other questions to settle. One major one for me is how to pick up on my role as an activist in Canada. That is to ask, what main concern will occupy me, and what will be my role in addressing that concern?

Given my continuing reflections and return to activism in Canada, the observations I have been making on the political activism front, as well as my desire/ need to take up some specific area of anti-imperialist work, I want to move into the theme of "Just Peace" at least for the next 12 months of blogging. 

I have been preoccupied with the conflicts in the world and the dangers of world war and nuclear weapons for the past few years. This is the area of most concern to me even before 2014 when I organized a small anti-war and anti-nukes tour in Korea and Japan with the collaboration of the Asian-Wide Coalition against domination and aggression. With the tensions in the Korean peninsula mounting, the increased militarization by the US and Japan, and the Obama's Pivot to Asia plan, my concern has been getting more urgent. Since last August, I have looked at Canada's role as an imperialist state, established since 1996, and its renewed defense policy and practices. Meanwhile, the Trump administration of the US has become more aggressive and its language more bellicose. 

My study has compelled me to focus my contributions to local and national activism to just peace. I have felt it necessary to speak out and act in the interest of averting all-out world war and calling for de-militarization. For example, I attended an international anti-war conference in Toronto back then, and started petitioning for a diplomatic solution to the Korean conflict. Moreover, I more recently spoke on the context and nature of World War One on the Remembrance Day weekend when our committee held the commemoration of the October Revolution centenary. I have provided information to a growing network that I instigated at the conference last summer. Lastly, I wrote an opinion related to the UN meeting on peace-keeping held in Vancouver last week. I wish to build on this foundation of activism for just peace with more local activity. I have in mind the formation of a Just Peace Movement.

Just peace means peace with conditions of social and economic betterment for the people. With this definition, armed struggle for social and economic betterment, as well as liberation movements against foreign control or occupation, are supported. This definition does not mean laying down arms and pacifism in any situation, because defense against foreign domination and control is just as are struggles for relief from mass deprivation and oppression. Conditions of just peace require taking steps for self-rule and representative democracy as well as negotiating solutions for human needs such as land, food and food production, shelter and health care. In addition to opposing war and militarization, activism on this front entails support for anti-colonial and struggles to end occupations, as well as peoples' struggles for essentials such as land, housing, full employment, proper social and health assistance, human rights and genuine democracy. No justice--no peace! 

Transitions - optimism rising

Posted on November 16, 2017 at 11:54 PM Comments comments (4)
Despite the gloom and rain of November in Vancouver, a time when Canada sees its highest number of deaths, I am once again feeling my optimism rise as my birthday (mid-December) approaches. It can feel sad in November when we remember the dead, and some of my relatives, friends and colleagues including my parents have passed during November. Nevertheless, my energy is on the rise.

As I said at the start of this blog, while I was introducing my blog project called "A Year of Living Positively" in December, 2013, the year's end is a natural time for reflection and planning. I am already getting excited about the prospects of my 62nd year in this world.

Good things continue to happen for me in my universe this year. After returning from a decade of teaching in January, I have carried through with my plan of resettlement. I have been transitioning well from life abroad to a resettled Canadian in British Columbia. Lately, I finally secured more regular work in teaching English.

My new work schedule entails 24 hours of work with 10 hours of class time. It is in a new English Academic Preparation program with prospective university students from China. It is just getting under way, so there is only one other teacher for the handful of students we have so far.

I still hang on to one shift at the children's after school academy. That gives me at least 27 hours of paid work a week. What do you know! It is a livable income (though barely). 

Actually, it seems the academy was surprised when I notified them I would only be available for the one shift. I was working only two shifts, though, so I don't know what they were thinking. They suddenly realised what an asset I am to their operation, so they offered me a guarantee of 4 shifts weekly and begged me not to reduce my time with them. Four shifts there would be between 12 and 16 hours a week, far below a livable income. In fact, I resent this offer after having endured the hardship of working only 2 shifts a week as my sole employment for the past two months, although it turns out they could have had me working more hours. They knew it was my only job for that period! I do not want to show my discontent, though, because this job would be a life-line should the new gig not work out.

We, my co-worker and I at the EAP program, were giving things a try before the offer came through. I got a mere text message confirming the offer after attending a meeting last Monday. The boss said there would be a contract with temporary conditions spelled out for a three-month period and he said he was consulting a lawyer about details, but I have not seen any contract. I am a little leary if nothing is in writing. I know they'll start paying us by around the end of November, but would prefer a probationary three-month deal. In his message, the boss stated the starting pay rate I agreed to, but said a review and salary adjustment would happen after a year. Hmmm I took a cut in the hourly rate I am used to because it is a new business, and because I thought I was being hired for a trial period.

I am still grateful because I am paid for a lot of non-teaching time, including the lunch break, for now. I also know the advantages of being the first hired--more potential for a leadership role down the road. The manager is interviewing a lot of prospective students, but we don't know how many will sign up. On the other hand, this easy schedule could change drastically soon, before we have established a bank of materials and lesson plans. We are creating materials and developing a process at this stage. That is another thing: it is an interesting time to enter a job. I enjoy working downtown in a more professional role, to boot. The favourable conditions outweigh the less favourable.

With employment stabilizing, I can get into more socializing. My life has been pretty constrained with a net income of about $600 a month for the past 8 weeks, a period in which I had to dip into my savings a little to cover the bills. I finally have a hair appointment and a couple of dinners scheduled. In truth, I went to a couple of bars recently to celebrate and let myself feel some relief at having a decent offer. I drank whisky! (only a few ounces)






Transition - mid-May status

Posted on May 19, 2017 at 12:18 PM Comments comments (3)
Regarding career and income, was hoping things would develop a little fuller and faster, but not so lucky. May 20 and I am doing part-time work with nothing happening with the small business.

Glitch in the small business works: after weeks of looking at and disseminating my flyer, I eventually noticed that the email address is given where the webite URL should be. Geez! Could not even get upset about that. No point. I just hedge my bets on others not noticing or, if they do, use good reason and figure the following. Everything is accurate except that one thing. The  printing process did not allow for even a quick check of the master copy. Finally, I am one person; this error just goes to show you how important having another eye, and one trained and skillful.

Meanwhile, let's look at the positive side to the employment situation. The subbing has been constant, so that I have had at least two weekly shifts in addition to my one regular afternoon of teaching. Second pay-day is today. Recognizing I'll have to rely on teaching more, I just applied for other ESL teaching jobs and got two immediate responses requesting interviews. However, they are for part-time work, one being work on-call and the other online tutoring. As for the Georgia Straight paper route, I am into my second month and the first pay-day is next week. I enjoy all this work, actually.

Socially, it has been lovely to catch up with people, especially the comrades in activism. That includes the Solidarity Notes Labour Choir, and ILPS organizations. I am leery of sinking back into the habit of over-extending myself in such activities and side-lining my paid work. I am endeavouring to keep the paid work the top priority and minimizing the personal expenses of cultural and activist involvements. There is a conference in Ontario I'd like to attend, but I am having second thoughts, considering the status of my monthly income. 

Really need to increase the monthly employment/ income in order to be able to satisfy requisites of a future lease or mortgage. I fear I am getting stuck in this housing arrangement, which stifles my creativity and self-expression, for one thing, and is just not practical for writing and working at home, for another.

Yeah, not much writing getting done. Don't have the head space or physical space for it, and am busy trying to resolve income situation. Keeping up my writing is another reason not to do too much activism, unless the activism can involve writing. I felt gratified when I was assigned to write a program for a recent event hosted by our choir earlier this month. Got some recognition of my skill and business in that field.

Transition-February successes

Posted on February 11, 2017 at 11:47 AM Comments comments (21)
This month, the third and fourth week of my return to Vancouver, has been going well. I continue to meet with good news. As I said earlier, I found a room in a pleasant house for a good price right in Vancouver and I started a part-time teaching job last week. That was a good start to February.

Both the landlord and boss are nice, kind and flexible people who are respectful and considerate. The employer adjusted to a criticism from a student and her family. We discussed the lesson plans together and came up with a new program of lessons for this student this past week. The student was content with this change.

Following those successes, I got a phone call one evening from the BC Elections hiring staff. They said they are considering me for a job as Office Manager, although the formalities of processing my employment won't begin until April. 

In addition, I just learned that the Canadian Authors' Association has approved my status as a professional writer! I guess I just squeaked through, considering my very low earnings from writing. It is because they count paid editing and paid teaching of writing as qualifying experiences. Smashwords did notify me of one more book sale that took place around the end of 2016. Whoopee! REgardless, the CAA listing allows me to list my skills and offer my services as a writer. 

Maybe the exposure from CAA membership has been the boost to views of my website lately. This month, the total number of views of this website surpassed 150,000! Let's keep in mind that over 148,000 views occurred after I started this blog around the start of 2014. Yeah, blogging helps stir up attention and employment-related and writing activity.

It's going well. Next week, I'll be free from the constraints of dog care once I move into the new house. The night after the move, I will go to a performance of Cirque du Soleil, which I am really looking forward to as it will be my first time seeing this circus and especially because it is a new show featuring horses. It will be a way to celebrate the completion of the month of intense dog care and the successes of my transition so far.

Eye of the Optimist-2016 for me

Posted on December 30, 2016 at 10:26 PM Comments comments (1)
MY ACCOMPLISHMENTS IN 2016

This website:  It drew over 1,600 views yesterday, on December 30, 2016. The total number of views of the site reached about 145,000. Most of that viewership arose out of the publishing of my blog, which started near the start of 2014. Prior to the blog-writing, the site had only attracted around 1,500, to the best of my recollection. My blog may not be well known, but starting it certainly was helpful in earning attention to my website. Some of the viewership has been stimulated by my job searches, I am sure.

Technology:  webcam usage; building of my commercial service sales pages;  used Zip files

Health:  made it to 60 years of age; passed the age of my mother at the time of her death in November; continued general exercise; no flu; resolved ankle and shoulder inflammation; my general physical exam results were rated A

Work:  completed and e-published my fourth novel, a third book of poems, and a children's story and continued my positive thinking blog; joined the Canadian Writers' Association; applied for writing and education admin jobs; taught job search, debate and news classes in addition to the regular English classes; resigned teaching in Korea; formally studied editing, completing 4 courses

Social:  extended my collegial relationships with Korean staff (hard to do), including participation in the profs' hiking group; formed deeper connections with some of my students; caught up with Canadian friends over the summer; connected with Canadian activism and joined some World Social Forum activities in the summer; continued arranging socials/ outings for colleagues, especially those in my residence; sought help from Canadian friends with plans for resettling in Canada and got results; had some great birthday parties

Transition-making:  carrying through with my goals for the year and next 5 years, I made some steps to leave my job and move overseas; I have just found a new home for my pet birds, sent some things away by post, given away some office and apartment items and am continuing to pack up my life here; backep up and deleted computer files; applied for housing and work and got housing covered for the next 6 months; broadened the announcement of my resignation and departure from Korea to Canada

MOOD

Generally, I felt good all year. I enjoyed my work, my small circle of friends and my frolicking finches at home. I relished a few hiking and sightseeing excursions. Though I felt I was growing less and getting a bit stifled, I did grow somewhat, especially through the writing and the contacts back in Canada.

The emotional side of making plans to leave my current life and plan a new one has gotten progressively more emotional. I have been flipping from glee to grief and back. Finalizing my activities in Korea one by one has brought up feelings of irritability and sadness again and again. 

When some messages of concerns about grades were forwarded to me at the last moment before the end of grade changing, which was a couple of days before Christmas, and it was the Director who passed them along, it was really upsetting and drastically affected my mood over Christmas. In a troubling coincidence, these messages were sent to me immediately after I handed in my grading paperwork and delivered my letter of resignation. The Director was reluctant to decide on the issues and continued to convey some lack of confidence even after I responded with explanations for a couple of cases where students got very low grades. I was angry and hurt; nice way to handle someone's leaving. I thought the matter might be a situation of retaliation on the part of the Director and, in fact, I asked her about the timing. The grades were available for students to correct before; they had all been so since December 15. It is normal for students to check the record from exam week on and raise concerns and questions well before the end of the grade change period, so this situation was very odd. Also, is normal for a mediating or authority figure in the department to stand up for a professor after hearing the grievances of the students and the responses of that professor. When I suggested that my director could defend me and my work, she was irrational in that she blamed me for "trying to blame" her and threatened me. She doesn't understand her role or the instances which I had described in detail. In sum, glad I am party company from this particular director. (They are appointed in cycles of 1 to 2 years in rotation.)

Getting detailed information about arrangements related to my resignation and preparing the paper work for the processing of my leaving, along with packing up with and giving away more of my stuff, and parting company with my lovely birdies, had filled me with anxiety and some bouts of grief. Still, it has been alleviating and uplifting to be keeping an eye on my goals and simultaneously make new plans for my new life that is just around the corner.

Eye of the Optimist-Internet access is a right

Posted on December 24, 2016 at 1:01 AM Comments comments (2)
Canadian parliamentary decision Dec. 23: here is a copy of a news article on it. It is positive news.

Published on Thursday, December 22, 2016 by Common Dreams 

In Historic Decision, Canada Declares Internet Access a Fundamental Right for All
--National telecom agency promises to connect all Canadians, from Quebec to Yukon, to high-speed broadband

In what is being described as a "historic" decision that will have a significant impact, particularly on the lives of those living in rural and First Nations communities, Canada's telecom agency on Wednesday issued a new rule declaring high-speed internet a basic service "necessary to the quality of life" of all Canadians."The future of our economy, our prosperity, and our society—indeed, the future of every citizen—requires us to set ambitious goals, and to get on with connecting all Canadians for the 21st century," said Jean-Pierre Blais, chair of the Canadian Radio-Television and Telecommunications Commission (CRTC), at a news conference. "These goals are ambitious. They will not be easy to achieve and they will cost money. But we have no choice."Under the new broadband strategy, the CRTC aims to provide 100 percent of Canadians access to reliable, world-class mobile and fixed Internet services, which will be available with an unlimited data option.The agency has set the network speed target at 50 Mbps download speed and 10 Mbps upload speed. As of 2015, 82 percent of Canadians had access to that caliber of broadband. In comparison, the United States' Federal Communications Commission (FCC) defines "broadband" as 25 Mbps download and just 3 Mbps upload.Further, the CRTC has set up a fund to support projects in areas that do not meet those targets, which will provide an additional $750 million above current government spending over five years."Canadians asked for universal internet access, support for rural communities, world-class speeds, unlimited data options, and minimum guarantees for the quality of their Internet," said Josh Tabish, campaigns director for OpenMedia, which led a citizen movement calling for internet as a basic service."We won it all, and there's no reason why other nations across the world can't do the same," Tabish observed, adding that he hopes Canada's action is replicated elsewhere.  "Countries all over the world face many of the same challenges as Canada, especially when it comes to delivering reliable, high-speed Internet to rural and remote communities," he said. "These challenges can be surmounted, but it will take real political will to do so. I believe [the] ruling will inspire people across the globe and help pressure decision-makers to do the right thing and ensure all their citizens can benefit from what the Internet can offer."Many observers contrasted the CRTC's new declaration to the United States, where the incoming president is likely to roll-back open internet provisions as well as other basic services.

Geoff White, an attorney with the public interest group Affordable Access Coalition, explained that the ruling "stopped short of adopting proposals the coalition put forth to address affordability issues, such as setting a low price for a basic broadband plan or establishing monthly affordability subsidies for low-income households," the Globe and Mail reported. Nonetheless, he called the decision "important and transformational."

Indeed, Derek Wentzell, a community economic development consultant, declared the new program a "game changer" for remote First Nations.

The decision draws from a recent review of the nation's basic telecom services, which included public opinion polling. According to Blais, "Canadians who participated during our process told us that no matter where they live or work in our vast country—whether in a small town in northern Yukon, a rural area of eastern Quebec or in downtown Calgary—everyone needs access to high-quality fixed Internet and mobile services."

He added, "High quality and reliable digital connectivity is essential for the quality of life of Canadians and Canada's economic prosperity."

Eye of the Optimist-typos

Posted on December 2, 2016 at 5:50 AM Comments comments (9)
I have started the fourth of a series of online editing courses, which compels students to reflect not only on what constitutes a mistake and how to correct it, but also on the consequences of publishing mistakes. (A lot of the study entails proofreading and using proofreader's marks, you see.) That is why a did a search about typographical errors on the web.

I came across quite a few articles or mentions of typos that had caused a stir. That discovery brought to mind an old yarn about a secretary who made a typo so serious that it caused chaos, even prompting a discussion in parliament. This yarn used to circulate within the Public Service Alliance of Canada, a union of government employees, most of whom who are in administrative positions. I remember it being told at gatherings and getting quite a good laugh in the early 90's.

I could not find that old story, but I found a lot of other jokes about typos or citings of funny typos on the internet. Here is a list of 10 humourous errors published in newspapers. It was compiled by Richard Nordquist and published on grammar.about.com.

"Typos are like rocks in a New England garden," said Dr. David Williams. "No matter how many you find and remove, the next time you look a big one will be staring you in the face."

For proofreaders everywhere, here are some 
really big rocks:10 outstanding typographical errors.
 
  1. On April 22, 2003, a closed-captioning typist for ABC's World News Tonight informed viewers that Federal Reserve chairman Alan Greenspan was "in the hospital for an enlarged prostitute." Later that evening, viewers were advised that Mr. Greenspan was in fact having prostate problems.
  2. "In our report of the Welsh National Opera's Cavalleria Rusticana and Pagliacci, the computer spellchecker did not recognise the term WNO (Welsh National Opera). A slip of the finger caused it to be replaced with the word 'winos.'"
    (Liverpool Daily Post, April 2005)
  3. "Readers may have noticed that the Valley News misspelled its own name [as Valley Newss] on yesterday's front page. Given that we routinely call on other institutions to hold themselves accountable for their mistakes, let us say for the record: We sure feel silly."
    (Valley News, July 22, 2008)

  1. "A story headlined 'Syria seeks our help to woo U.S.' in Saturday's Weekend Australian misquoted National Party senator Sandy Macdonald. The quote stated, 'Syria is a country that has been a bastard state for nearly forty years,' but should have read, 'Syria is a country that has been a Baathist state for nearly forty years.'"
    (The Australian, March 29, 2004)
  2. "Under dim lights in a grand hall of the great Folger Shakespeare Library lies the 'Wicked Bible,' called so because it omits one distinctly important word from the Seventh Commandment. It is a word with the power to prevent sin.

    "'Thou shalt commit adultery,' the Wicked Bible commands.

    "For this unfortunate typo, the printer of this 1631 edition of the King James Bible met with retribution. By order of the king, copies of the 'Wicked Bible' were quickly gathered and burned. Its printer, Robert Barker, was chastised for stupidity."
    (DeNeen L. Brown, "Folger Shakespeare Library Celebrates 400th Anniversary of King James Bible." The Washington Post, October 7, 2011)
  3. "In the Feb. 6 article 'Cut, Thrust and Christ,' we misquoted Jerry Falwell as using the words 'assault ministry.' In fact, Falwell was referring to 'a salt ministry,' a reference to Matthew 5:13 where Jesus says 'ye are the salt of the earth.'"
    (Newsweek, Feb. 13, 2006)
  4. "A story in Saturday's Section A on David Brewer's selection as the next superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District quoted Brewer as saying: 'A good friend came up to me and said, "Dave, why wait? Why wait to help disadvantage children?"' The quote should have read: 'A good friend came up to me and said, "Dave, why wait? Why wait to help disadvantaged children?"'"
    (Los Angeles Times, Oct. 18, 2006)
  5. "In our entry on Garrison Keillor's Lake Wobegon Days, we referred to a Prairie Ho Companion; we meant a Prairie Home Companion. This has been corrected."
    (The Guardian, Jan. 20, 2009)
  6. "At a joint services school I attended in the early 1980s, considerable attention was given to the production of a new staff manual that would help its army, navy, air force, and marine students to understand one another better. An unfortunate typo, however, somewhat compromised this goal, because the stated purpose, 'to work together for the common good,' came out 'work together for the common goo.' It was corrected, but only over the objections of those who argued that the original version was more honest."
    (Carl Kenneth Allard, Business as War: Battling for Competitive Advantage. John Wiley & Sons, 2004)
  7. "Joan Jacobs said one of her family’s all-time favorite typos was in a legal decision from the National Labor Relations Board. Joan’s husband was a judge, and as he was reading another judge’s decision, he came upon a sentence that began, 'This mush is clear . . ..'"
    (John Kelly, "With the Written Word, the Eyes Don't Always Have It." The Washington Post, October 3, 2011)

Eye of the Optimist -Cultural Renewal

Posted on May 14, 2016 at 1:01 AM Comments comments (2)
For the purpose of reviewing my work on positive thinking recently, I was re-reading my first volume of blog entries entitled "A Year of Living Positively" (written from Dec. 2013 to Dec. 2014 and published in 2015 online). In doing so, I noticed that I never completed posting thoughts on the meaning of cultural renewal. Cultural renewal came up as one of the conclusions of my machinations on the concept of positive thinking. Rather than launch into that subtopic right away, however, I postponed the task and eventually traveled up the path of discussing the benefits of journal writing in Volume Two. I want to start addressing the notion of cultural renewal here and now.

Anthropologists routinely talk about cultural production and reproduction to explain how a society or at least a community and its cultural develop. Reproduction is repetition; that is to say habit and tradition. Production is the appearance of new practices, materials and ideas, which happens over time through experience. Cultural renewal is reproduction and production.

Weaving in the concept of cultural renewal into my evolving mental framework of positiive thinking, it plays a part in refreshing our outlook and lives when we are aware and consciously think about creating and re-creating ideas, things and practices. Journal writing is a prime example of how this is and can be done. Through the process of observations,reflections on our experiences, social exchanges and the ideas of ourselves and others, our attitudes and concepts are altered, usually gradually although it can happen through epiphanies or the shocks of sudden events in our lives.

My approach to positive thinking involves more than just observing, reflecting and looking at the positive side of experience and circumstances. It includes voluntarism, community involvement and action for social change. It is through this latter thrust of consciousness raising and positive thinking that culture can be more significantly enhanced and pushed forward. It can happen especially through communicating the positive thinking that one's reflections, decisions and actions generates. 

Thinking and Doing It Positively

Household Treasures

11 January 2021

I heard an interviewee speaking over the radio talk about cherishing items in the home. It is one way to explore and enjoy surroundings without traveling, he said​I'll try it.


A lot of objects on display in my apartment are artifacts from my travels, ironically. They refresh my most poignant memories of precious and mind-opening explorations.


Sitting atop the filing cabinet next to my desk are to souvenirs from South Korea, where I worked and resided for 10 years. After such a lengthy stay, I have loads of memories prompted by numerous artifacts of my experiences in that country. These two are among the best reflections of cultural and historical particularities of South Korea. They are a framed photo of a hero central to the labour and national democratic struggles and an ornament from folk culture in the countryside of the southern part of South Korea.


Jun Tae-Il was a courageous student activist leading actions against the last dictatorship in his country. He represents the heart of the movement and the victory for democracy. He became a martyr when the police fatally shot him while he was demonstrating in the street in Seoul, the capitol. The ornament is an ceramic fertility fetish, an image of a penis from one of several such parks in the southern region where I used to live. This part of the country remained tribal longer than other parts, so folk traditions such as shamanism and superstitions have endured. Fertility monuments were erected (pun intended), of course, bring about more healthy children. The foreigner exploring such parks giggle at the sights. 


Next to the filing cabinet is a bookshelf. One of the most noticeable objects near the top of this piece of furniture is a tacky, plastic, white alarm clock. It is significant because I bought it to ensure I woke up on time on my last morning living in South Korea. I had an early flight. As a small travel alarm clock had recently failed, and I was not sure my phone alarm would wake me fully, I picked up a cheap clock at a local general store. I don't use it as its ticking is noisy, but I have not thought to give it away. It remains perched on the shelf, deprived of a battery, as a reminder of my departure from the ex-pat life and return to Canada. 


I also have items saved from two trips to Cuba, one in 2003 and one in 2019. Both trips were organized political events. The first took me there with a political choral group to meet Cuban choirs, learn some of their songs, perform with Cubans, attend the May 1st rally, meet labour associations and tour the island for two weeks. I am looking at a typical replication of a sketch of Che Gevarra which one can find easily in street markets. Our choir, supportive of the Cuban revolution, valued the Cuban revolutionary democracy, social arrangements and political principals which that image, the most famous in all the world, represents to millions of people. It inspires and gives hope. I remember strolling through the streets, visiting markets and restaurants, chatting with locals and attending all the meetings on our hectic schedule. I have other little treasures such as a ceramic, hand painted ashtray, photos of our Cuban comrades, and an African-Cuban, wooden statuette.


Above my desk hang a pair of water colour paintings in wood frames. They portray sites in southern Manitoba in the general area where my grandparents met, married and bore my mother. They feature two views of the banks of the Red River, a river highly important to Canadian history. There were battles against invading Americans launched there and a key struggle of the Métis nation. The city of Winnipeg lies nearby, which used to be the industrial hub of Canada until the Panama Canal opened up and undermined the Canadian railway system. I have only passed through Winnipeg by car. This area is not one I remember, for I have never visited it. 


On the floor near my desk lies a wicker hamper. I have mixed feelings about it, but it has been very useful, so I have kept it. You see, it belonged to my father's second wife. My father remarried this odd, older person rather quickly after my mother passed, which denied her children necessary time to adjust. I carried resentment about her, but chose to avoid them rather than say anything or show my negative feelings. As I said, it is a practical item for it holds linens and Christmas stuff and allows aeration through the woven stems.


I originally bought the filing cabinet to organize research, not academic information but information found in the course of activism and stabs at political journalism. It therefore stores records of several international and regional conferences. Though I purge it once in awhile, there are still clippings, leaflets and pamphlets. They cover issues such as Canadian mining firms abroad, human rights cases, privacy rights, student concerns and transportation. I have been replacing old articles and folders with my own writing pieces. Among them are also old, self-published newsletters addressing local and international issues, some of my published articles and unpublished poems. 




Conversational News

10 January 2021

It is so good to be able to express myself and have contact with readers through this blog again. The loss of the access to my blog along with other aspects of confinement and restrictions really affected me. There were added unsettling restrictions due to circumstances, even including access to my games when Adobe Flash Player was removed. I was feeling the mounting stress of rising COVID cases and the awareness of the damages inflicted by this disease as well as the damage inflicted by states that remain focused on helping profitable enterprises more than addressing the disease and health care and financial interventions fully and equitably. Most such as Canada are handing the responsibility of pandemic management to individuals. Very unjust!


I had been handling the conditions of the pandemic fairly well, but emotions were catching up to me in December as I personally began to feel tired and stressed. I started to feel irritable and alarmed. I looked forward to two weekends at home over Christmas and New Years, but the employer wanted me to work on the Saturdays. Saturday being the heaviest work day for me with five hours straight teaching and two hours travel, I had been wanting relief to get a chance to rest and calm down. I ended up taking the Saturday following NY Day off, which certainly helped. I am much better now.


I did not carry through with my usual practice of personal assessment and planning in December as is my habit. I was too agitated. I did not want to reflect on this past year, actually. Not then.


Anyway, there is not any change in my goals. I generally carried through with financial, livelihood, social, family, health and growth goals. However, the social and family goals were frustrated by Covid-19 rules. However, there are elder relatives with multiple health problems whose mental health was being upset by the situation, so I have been visiting with them in cafes and such. They are better now. I have also been aiding an elderly neighbour whose health, already in decline this year, was getting worse partially because of Covid-related restraints. (Her degrading sight and hearing, as well as shaking and loss of balance, caused her to stop driving permanently, and skeletal issues caused her to stop regular exercise. She is worried she will be forced to consider entering a facility while many care homes are in crisis!) My exercise regime was also compromised. The local fitness center remains open but I perceive it as risky, so I do not go there. Aside from some hiking and walking to accomplish transit and errands, I haven't been exercising much until recently. Now I do some yoga, lunging, stretching and weighted arm raises sometimes. I am prevented this week because of an inflammation (hemorrhoid caused by lengthy sitting!).


 One big factor affecting stress and anxiety levels is news reportage. State and private corporate news services, like most enterprises today, try to streamline by relying more on tech and web browsing to find news topics. There are fewer reporters and there is less extended, investigative reporting. For the past decade at least, such services have resorted to "conversational journalism." It is an adjustment to distrust of news and official authorities during a trend of democratization, I feel. However, it tends to keep popularity and viewer or reader stats in mind. Topics can be sensationalized by rehashing events and speculation. Commentators are brought in to discuss as are senior reporters, but the discussion is not very productive in that it does not lead to increased knowledge. Rather, it keeps generating more questions. Conversations often entertain unanswerable questions, particularly because there can be no resolution. They just push the topic and stimulate possible answers to stir up controversy and alarm in order to improve ratings. Pertinent information might be omitted if it actually answers a question. Once audiences abandon a thread, they turn to some other topic and start over. It is really unconscionable because of the innuendo, speculation, rumour, omission, lack of investigation, assumptions and biases.


The COVID coverage is a clear case in point. Partial information is supplied, such as a medical official's announcement that is partly based in some truth. The announcement is questioned. Opponents are recruited to present the false arguments. Sideline topics are raised to create more friction. Proper sources are ignored. Questions are recycled and spin round and round with no conclusion. The affect is understandable: alarm, anxiety, fear, stress, accusations, complaints, etc.


I follow a couple of doctors who produce daily videos to update viewers on scientific developments and explore reasoning behind government and medical decisions regarding the pandemic. I rely on Dr. John Campble and Doctor Moran. Find them on Youtube. Campbell is the most digestable, for he uses plain English, which Moran is more technical. The latter seems to be addressing people in the medical field. By following Campbell, in particular, I can see the gaps in the regional and national news reporting. I can see that they are lagging behind the news by ignoring or failing to search for reliable information.

We're Back

07 January 2021

Apologies to my followers and viewers. You have been very supportive and encouraging for many years. I might have disappointed some of you who were looking for new entries from me. 


Let me explain. VISTAPRINT changed its platform last year. When they did that, the method for making blog entries changed. I had no information from them about what to do. It simply appeared that I know longer had any blogging service. 


However, I just spoke to a VISTAPRINT rep who guided me. I can now write blog entries, as you can see.


It was a strange year all the way around. Things seemed kind of more chaotic than usual. I felt agitated and stressed last month for no definite reason. I had trouble sleeping. I felt exhausted.


My general astrology reading asserted that the pulling away of Jupiter, one of my planets and a very powerful one, from Saturn would make Sagitarians feel exhausted by the end of December. Despite the restrictions imposed because of the pandemic, it does indeed feel like I worked and accomplished a lot (activism, teaching, writing). Things are supposed to get easier for us Sagges. 


There was added stress because of the effects of the pandemic. Not only that but worse, state aggression seemed to increased around the world, causing civilian mass responses. Though I had handled it pretty well until the end of 2020, I guess it finally got to me and I started soaking up some of the stress and anxiety emitting from my region and beyond.


2021 is starting out a bit weird, too. Just look at yesterday's events. U.S. Whitehouse invasion. Solar flare sending rays that caused several storms, earthquakes and volcanic eruptions. More lockdowns. 


I wish all my readers well. I will resume entering focused pieces when I have more time. Please stick with me. Thank you for your comments to date.


Ed Wise

TEST

15 January 2020

THIS IS A TEST OF THE NEW PLATFORM FORMAT AND BLOG ENTRY SYSTEM.