Sunday, June 25, 2017

Waste not . . .

The streets of Cairo are strewn with garbage, something that doesn't figure in tourist brochures.    A still developing country, it might seem that Egypt shouldn't have enough left over to discard.   Perhaps the brochure photographs make use of the same apps that can be used to remove the other tourists from your scenic shots to remove the detritus.   Similarly, selfie seekers need to be avoid certain angles where the heaps of garbage detract from the historic splendour of the Taj Mahal. 

Times of India

Partly, it is just habit.   In some neighbourhoods litter is rarely seen, despite the presence of public litter boxes.   Tossing trash can be contagious;  once there is one item, more easily follow.   A former mayor of New York worked wonders by dealing with matters like litter, graffiti and broken windows under the belief, proven correct, that reduction in crime is a by-product.   We take our weekly garbage pick up for granted, but where does our garbage go?

This article in The Guardian describes a convenience culture.   Food packaging is a major source of waste, much of it plastic based and not bio-degradable.   Even poisonous.   It might be a radical suggestion, but what about unwrapping the excess packaging and leaving at the checkout is mentioned in the article.

Think about starting small.   This blogger, at Going Zero Waste has a plethora of ideas.   Surely one will be easy to incorporate into your lifestyle.   Start small.

It is also important not to get discouraged about the world; that makes it easy to give up and just toss that wrapper on the ground.   Have a look at Professor Pinkers' article in Guardian and statistics here.  Things are getting better;  the least we can do is pick up the trash.

Sunday, June 18, 2017


Saying those words can be difficult but they open the path to change.   It doesn't have to be phrased like that unless you just hit a baseball into someone's front window.   (You did stick around and make arrangements to cover the cost, right? ).  You might have said something like, 'I could have done better,'  or 'I think next time I'll try it this way," or even 'I'm going to start writing down my appointments so I don't forget them.'    Any of these phrases, or something similar, all have something in common:   You are taking ownership for your actions.

It's interesting how people like taking credit for something they did that turns out well, even if success was also a surprise to them.   But admitting that what happened was a direct result of your actions is not so easy when the outcome is negative.    Perhaps society, in the form of parents and teachers, must bear some responsibility.   We could see errors, bad choices and poor behaviours as teachable moments, suggest ways to improve and then --this is the important part -- hold children accountable for improvement.  But sometimes we choose to rain down criticism and punishments without future solutions that leave the child/student deciding to avoid future similar events at all costs.   Thus, is blame someone else born.


Some children/adults will lie -- if they think they can get away with it.  Even with the chocolate cupcake icing smeared on their face they will deny that they took one after being told not to before dinner.   In a two year old it's almost comical.   Some people get good at lying, straight-faced and with righteous indignation that someone else was to blame.   The problem is there is this thing called credibility.   The courts rely on it a lot to decipher the truth and most of us develop a sixth sense about it even though it is not reliable.    But once you have categorized someone as a liar or at least prone to fantasy or wild exaggeration their future veracity is in doubt.   Kind of like the boy who cried wolf.

I think there is an inherited component to it.   Young children who never acknowledge that there are areas of their education they need to work on - like not habitually losing assignments before handing them in will often have parents, who at parent/teacher interviews, will tell me that relatives came to visit or that the child had to go shopping with them or that Johnny wasn't feeling well as the reason homework was undone.   How many times do excuses work before they don't?    Children grow into adults and hang onto their habits.   It's always someone else's fault  that they can't hold onto a job, get into a financial bind, smoke and abuse prescription drugs.   I don't know if by now they believe their own excuses but I sometimes notice that they seem to check to see if the person they are talking to has bought into their excuse or do they need to work on honing their pitch.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Keeping Track of Characters

This morning I picked up an ordered book from our local library, my favourite place to find books to read (but don't let that stop you from purchasing mine!).  It might have been a donation because on the inside cover someone had written the characters names with their occupation next to it.   At first I thought, 'what a shame to disfigure a book' but when I started to read I found occasion to check back as to the significance of a name.  I was aware of the name of the main character as it had been given and explained on the back cover as a Victorian gentleman and armchair explorer, but there was no mention of the other character in the opening scene.    I felt a little guilty as if I was validating the desecration but suspected I might have need of the information further on.   I've written before about the occasional difficulty in keeping track of a multitude of characters and that wasn't even about War and Peace.    

I will give the name of the book:  A Beautiful Blue Death by Charles Finch.   I found this title when reading an on-line blog.   I've formed the habit of immediately going to my library account and ordering a book that strikes me as something I would enjoy whenever I come across an on-line recommendation.

Saturday, June 3, 2017

Ah, MIllennials . . .


If you are anything like me, you will find yourself going down an internet rabbit hole -- or is it following a trail of  bread crumbs --  on a topic that has caught your imagination.   Recently it was all about how millennials (which is is not a group I am a member of) are thumbing their nose at what the establishment thinks they should be doing.   If I were an old hippie, which I am also not, I would be fist pumping, 'Yeah, go for it!' But I am silently cheering them on in their rejection of what the mainstream marketers think that age group, presently about 18 to 35 years, should be doing to keep the present business model going.

How are they not cooperating?  Why they are not buying diamond engagement rings? I can remember the ad that oh so helpfully advised young men that two months' salary was the right amount to spend.   Not working anymore, it seems.   I find many past (and present) advertisements degrading to women.   Is it just me?

They are also not so interested in buying cars.   Too much pollution, fracking, unstable oil prices, exploiting companies and workers and so on.   They are not interested in staying in the same job for thirty years, slowly working their way up the corporate ladder, hoping their loyalty will be matched by the corporation.  Millennials tend not to play golf;   takes too long and costs too much.   Not much exercise either.   Shopping in malls?   Not so much.   Nightclubs with expensive, watered down drinks and cover charges.  Not much fun to be had there.  Even car and home ownership seem dubious goals.

But, but, but say the baby boomers.   They should want these things.   We did . . . eventually.   Plus we need them to buy our million dollar+ homes and finance our retirement.     We need them to keep old industries afloat, pay a lot of taxes and finance our healthcare and relaxing retirement.    

Frankly, I don't blame the millennials one bit.   Wages and salaries have been stagnant for decades; prices and taxes have gone up.   Whereas a new immigrant, one income family (my parents) could buy a house in one of the most expensive cities in the world for housing (Vancouver) within 18 months of arriving, it would be more realistic now to suggest 18 years of saving plus help from the bank of mom and dad to buy a small condominium.

I'd rebel, too.