Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Who Runs America?

As I wind down my stint as a HS school librarian, I'm given to reflecting on my 35 years "in the biz". We recently hosted Slam Poet Taylor Mali for our annual evening "Coffee House", and I was struck by the depth of reflection that he brought to the event. I was also impressed that several student offerings questioned the profligate behaviors endemic to modern society.

But have my 35 years as a teachers seen any real change (dare I say "growth"?) in human behavior in modern society?  Allan Ginsberg's "Who Runs America" was published, as it happens, in 1974, the year I began my teaching career - but it aptly describes the  current view from the suburbs of Bangkok - on a good day...
    "Oil red dung colored smoke
       level to level across the horizon
                blue tainted sky       above"
                                                             "Who Runs America? Alan Ginsberg, 3 Dec 1974"

Mali and our student poets suggest that a heartbeat of social conscience does indeed still resonate faintly within our materialistic, me-first, gadget-oriented and NIMBY-obsessed little souls -  but talk (even poetry) is cheap. My personal decision to "walk the (environmental) talk" is the only way forward.

Watch for future notes about the resurrection of the "North Road Trading Post".

Friday, October 15, 2010

New Beginnings...

...come out of Endings, bringing things full circle.

Last week I resigned my position as High School Librarian after 13 years in the job, 25 years at the same school (International School Bangkok) and 35 years "in the business".  Of course this will end many facets of my life, but it's a new beginning in all the ways that count.

It will begin to give back to my parents for their years of love and support, and to provide them with as much quality time possible in their remaining years with their 3 year-old grandson.

It will begin to offer my son real opportunities to know and learn from (and then remember) his grandparents. If we're lucky, it will offer him the time to gather real memories to honor them by.

It will begin a family lifestyle change to better "walk the (environmental) talk". For years I've advocated for a gentler footprint on the earth, while maintaining a low-end "jet-set" lifestyle, with a home in Bangkok, a condo at the beach, and undeveloped property in northern B.C.  Relocating to Canada will reduce my family's air travel carbon cost and help us move ahead on "green" projects there, which I'll blog about in due course.

It will begin for me a personal journey to more fully follow the Buddhist "eight-fold path".  Reuben James, the protagonist of "Mai Shangri-La" uses the mnemonic "Right Understanding, shown in one's Thought, Speach, and Actions, comes through Living Every Moment Carefully" (Livelihood, Effort, Mindfulness and Concentration).

My "new beginnings" will be, I hope, a move toward "Living Every Moment Carefully" to atone, perhaps, for years of disregard and excess. I'm not expecting to change the world -  but if each of us who has the freedom to make the choices that I have, exercised those choices, the world would indeed, be a better place...

Friday, July 9, 2010

...Yes Virginia, there is a Santa Claus...

...but he's got no hair and a 5-oclock shadow for a beard. He also goes by the name of "Jobs".

After surveying the field and finding nothing better than the Apple offering, I pre-ordered my 3G iPad (online, and from Thailand) and after several abortive attempt to take delivery, finally got my new machine up and running.

While spending the summer traveling the backroads of BC, Canada and running between hospitals to monitor aging parents, my iPad has been a lifesaver! Like many other users, I'd love to see a camera on-board, and it would be nice to be able to plug straight in via a USB port, for a 1st edition, it's a keeper! While attending a conference this week, I've used the my pad (named "CanOracle" -short for "Canadian Oracle") with a wireless keyboard as an alternative to a laptop, and the results have been beyond acceptable. I think I may permanently tether my Macbook Pro to a desk and use the iPad as my primary machine.


Friday, February 26, 2010

My Year of the Tiger... off to a good start. The Wayback Machine has made the 1st cut in ABNA3 (Amazon Breakout Novel Contest) in the new YA division, and boy, does that feel good! Even though I've written off the contest as something of a lottery, with a single winner eventually "winning" a publishing contract from up to 5,000 entries, it was still a downer in ABNA1 and 2 to look for my name and not find it among the (long)listed titles.

It's been five years now since I decided to write in earnest, and this is my biggest boost so far. Oh, I had that excerpt from Mai Shangri-La published in Polar Expressions in 2007, but other than than, I'm building up my requisite (it seems) file of publisher and agent rejections. Some are kind, offering words of encouragement or bits of advice; others are pretty blunt. All part of the writers' babtism of fire, they say...

Next big date is March 23rd, when ABNA cuts to 500 "Quarterfinalists". I'm keeping my expectations low, but still, one can't help dreaming a bit of that big breakthrough. With growing global awareness of the fragility of the environment and the challenges ahead, maybe the time is at hand for us environmental "canaries in the coal mine". The challenge, of course, is to get the environmental message out subliminally, while telling a good story...

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Still Edging Ahead...

...towards the day when Universal access on a single Ubiquitous device that's lighter than a lead-brick will put the riches of the web truly within Every person's reach.

On review, Apple's new iPad didn't do it, but Hearst's new Skiff, although not quite there yet, moves the bar significantly closer to the mark. Go Hearst!

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Mai Shangri-La Kindle Edition Now Available

Just call me "A Day Late and a Dollar Short" Rubis...

...the VERY day Mai Shangri-La makes it to the Kindle platform is the day the Apple iPad "Kindle-killer" is released.