EDWISE 

EDITOR AND EDUCATION CONSULTANT

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Bright side

Posted on April 5, 2020 at 6:39 PM
I've stayed home almost all the time for a month. I began getting dreary last month, especially because of persistent dark, cold, rainy weather, the kind of which we say most days from October to February. However, I have not been bored, really. 

I have been tutoring a variety of students online, which takes a lot of messaging and prep for each session. Some of my groups have been communicating a lot; we had several meetings over the past two weeks, resulting in the need for more messaging and writing of documents. I've also been taking more phone calls than usual.

Both my mobile phone and laptop showing their age lately, I knew I had to shake it to replace them before they stopped operating altogether. It turned out smoothly. I found a refurbished computer online and it was delivered by post soon after. Today I bought a phone and it is functioning well after a quick switch of SIM cards and a few steps for set-up. I feel accomplished at the success of these purchases and reboots, especially since I have never bought a gadget without getting tech service at the place of purchase. System changes and start-ups seem to be simplified nowadays.

On Thursday, I handled three hours total of teaching and phone calls with an employer, then prepared for and opened up an online meeting. We talked for 90 minutes. 

The weekend is no different in terms of time and energy spent at chores, communications and maintenance. It was necessary to send out some documents I had initiated, discussed and written a few days prior. Although a morning tutoring session was canceled, I had one to give in the early afternoon. Everything seemed to happen at once, during that 1.5-hour tutorial. The computer arrived. I received work-related text messages and phone calls. A parent arrived with a pay-cheque. After the tutorial, I went to deposit the cheque and run a couple of other errands. Queues stretched for about a half a block outside the food stores and bank. People appeared frightened and tense. Medical clinic staff refused my offer of precious N95 masks, which I had been keeping for emergencies at home.

Wanting to hear the latest about the COVID-19 pandemic, I tune into the state briefings and media questioning each morning. However, all the repetitive information and questions, plus all the speculation and alarm, make me feel stressed. I have been turning off these broadcasts earlier and earlier after no further new information is announced.  I can only take so much.

I resigned myself to another food run on Saturday, but vowed to  hike to the supermarket  during "seniors time" early in the day, when there is no line-up and plenty of stock can be found on the shelves. Mission accomplished there, I returned home to push through a load of laundry. Then it was time to turn on the new computer and, fingers crossed, activate it and the servers and other apps I most frequently use. It took nearly three hours, but went remarkably smoothly. I am using the new laptop at this moment; it is faster and more convenient than my older one, and it does not over heat like the older one.

Finally I got a chance to relax yesterday afternoon. Avoiding the news programs, I sought documentaries on Youtube. Subsequently, as dinner was heating up, I searched for CBC films. CBC has opened up its "Gem" online streaming channel for use free of charge. I found a gem of a flick, indeed: "The Red Violin", a joint project of Montreal and European film makers with Canadian stars Colm Feore and Sandra Oh among many others, as well as Samuel L. Jackson in a surprising role, and multilingual European actors of whom I have know nothing before. I recommend this movie. It follows the path of a violin from the circumstances of its creation in the 17th century to its purchase at a monastery for musical orphan boys, from its theft by Romas to its transfer to a famous and eccentric soloist in the 18th century, and from the soloist's butler transport to China where he sold it and a wealth family adopted it, through the Mao revolution and, finally, included in a recovery of old, European instruments in China and transported to an auction house in Montreal. The intriguing diversion was most welcome. I felt quite relaxed after viewing it.

I chose today, Sunday, to go for a lengthier bike ride. The weather turned fair and the rich boughs of cherry blossoms beckoned. I set out after breakfast. That's when I collected the N95 masks from a cupboard and slipped them into a backpack to give to a local nursing home. I also planned to shop for a new phone, without intending to make a purchase on this day. The intensive care nursing home and hospice lie on the other side of a school and park, an easy distance from my place. I rang the bell at the door and held out the bag with the box of masks using long tongs. The person who opened the door was very glad to get them. 

At the big box "drug" store, I locked up my bike to a fence, wrapped my face in a silk scarf, and joined the queue inside the mall. I quickly spotted the Britta tap filter cartridges and picked up a couple of food items, then made my way to the electronics department. Gazing around at the fare on display, I did not think I would buy anything today. Despite my reticence at making an immediate purchase, the sight of a friendly service rep eased my trepidation enough to permit me to inquire about the phones on hand. The helpful staff assured me that switching phones would be relatively easy, without necessitating a trip to the phone network service provider; all I'd have to do was put my old SIM card into the new gadget. While I talked to the engaging fellow, a younger staff member dug around and came up with a lowish-priced model of a reliable make. I bought it.

It took under an hour to glance at the manual, plug in the new device, and install the old SIM card. (Gosh! I almost pried open the wrong slot. I started to excavate the on switch but stopped in the nick of time when I realized it was not a card port!) I have made one call and received one call; it is working fine.

The next task was getting back to this blog. I have been receiving many requests to keep writing. Thanks for all your positive comments and encouragement.

When I opened up this blog page, I had envisioned sharing some insights about the significance of this health crisis but got into an account of my last few days in "isolation." I will follow that with some observations and reflections of the crisis next time.

Categories: communication, living, positive thinking, depression

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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.

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