Friday, November 30, 2007

If your mind were a dwelling... how it would be?

And the answer for jAz is:

Roulotte (caravana). 1955. Remedios Varo

Friday, September 21, 2007

A man with a birthday... Leonard Cohen

Happy birthday Leonard Cohen! Three years ago you turned 70 and the novelty of a new decade is fading away. But maybe it feels more like the revolution of being 23 than the slowing down of 33. One way or another we managed to celebrate it in Edmonton... one way or another.

The whole damn place goes crazy twice
and it's once for the devil and once for Christ
but the Boss don't like these dizzy heights
we're busted in the blinding lights,
busted in the blinding lights

"Ay, ay, ay, ay! Take this close-mouthed waltz..." wrote Federico García Lorca, and for your hero you wrote a waltz for his words, that you made yours, very yours. Not many birthdays I have been where the celebrated one gives the presents to the guests.

Perhaps that is the secret to have the guests back every year =)

Yeah I missed you since the place got wrecked
By the winds of change and the weeds of sex
looks like freedom but it feels like death
it's something in between, I guess

Sunday, September 02, 2007

Is email (and Facebook) taking over your time at work?

Let us face it. For those of us who have as part of our work a computer connected to Internet, the sources of distraction can be as many as how deep we are willing to dive into the web. It is not an easy situation because, as I mentioned in a previous entry, the web offers you tools that can actually improve your work and ultimately your life. But what happens when dealing with email and/or checking on Facebook at work starts to take over your production time? Well, Internet itself gave me some answers...

There is not always a clear distinction between what is a waste of your time and what can be... let's take it to an extreme, saving you to pay loads of money to a therapist because of your over-stressed life. Distractions have a healthy side and alcohol, tobacco and video games can give you a healthy happiness despite their toxicity. It turns out, as with many things, that the secret of a balanced life is in how much we "consume" of something.

With email and websites like Facebook it becomes even more blurred the distinction between good and bad. I am not going to discuss here the implications that Facebook is having in the lives of those of us who have adopted this site in a routinary basis. Let's focus instead in how to deal with email at work and hope that something can be extrapolated to other areas.

I am not re-inventing the wheel, but just passing on the advices that I read one day to tackle the amount of time spent on the email at work. In fact the original article has as title: How not to check email at work. I am going to summarize here what I have been trying to apply:
  1. Turn off notifications and sometimes even keep the email manager closed.
  2. Check the email when making a break and apply the 4 Ds:
  • Delete it - delete if it has conveyed its purpose
  • Do it - reply if under 2 minutes
  • Delegate it - forward if actionable for someone else
  • Defer it - put away [folder/star, etc.] for later
Ever tried to quit smoking or keep your visits to the gym on? Yes, it has to do with our will, identification of priorities and perception of time. I remember watching a documentary about the life of Charles Dickens where it was stated that he used to spend four hours every morning to deal with his mail. We are not as famous as him, but emails arrive quicker to our inbox these days =)

How are you dealing with email (and Facebook if it's the case!) at work?

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Shopping or not to be, that is the question...

The New Fred Meyer on Interstate on Lombard
photo originally uploaded by lyzadanger
In this planet there is a land of consumerism, where plastic is a God and styrofoam containers the priests that everyday deliver to their followers lunch and coffee. A land where without a car you are nobody, the malls are churches where the faith is renovated and the energy power endless... or it seems to be...otherwise I don't explain why every night all the lights in the house are on... and appear on again in the morning despite turning them off. An electric stove can be left on without food on it and a SUV is the obvious choice when buying a car.

"And when you're out there
Without care,
Yeah, I was out of touch
But it wasn't because I didn't know enough
I just knew too much

"Does that make me crazy?
Does that make me crazy?"
Does that make me crazy?

Jante Law

Don't think you're anyone special or that you're better than us.

The ten rules are:

1. Don't think that you are special.
2. Don't think that you are of the same standing as us.
3. Don't think that you are smarter than us.
4. Don't fancy yourself as being better than us.
5. Don't think that you know more than us.
6. Don't think that you are more important than us.
7. Don't think that you are good at anything.
8. Don't laugh at us.
9. Don't think that anyone cares about you.
10. Don't think that you can teach us anything.

In a bar in Helsinki, where you can dance Salsa, a drunk Finn approached me and with neutral tone and face said "Don't smile". Then he went back to his seat. =)

I love Scandinavians! (Specially Jenni, Sima and Chris... and you too Dulce ;-)

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Dive into the web

From my first Open Diary entry to this post I have been living the Web 2.0 explosion with increasing interest and participation. Some weeks ago I changed the look of this blog taking advantage of Blogger layouts and some Ajax applications from Google. I am not any expert so I was delighted to include the video, map, and search tools that you can see here. Even more, subscribing my blog to FeedBurner made me realise how much this blog could become more part of "the web" than what I originally intended. This therapeutic exercise of writing that started for the sake of doing it (and having some "practice" for the thesis that I had to write at the time) have become a point of contact with a virtual community. It is then time to recapitulate some of the steps that I have followed...

After discovering that writing in the web can actually put you in contact with strangers I wanted to see the limits of this interaction and filled some profiles in dating sites. The frustration for not being able to actually contact other people in pay sites like Match took me to places like Plenty of fish, Person or OkCupid. This last one actually has surpassed my expectations from a dating site... which does not mean that it makes more easy to get a real life date! You still have to learn your lessons.

But the internet not only helps you to connect with others, it connects you with your life! Are you one who writes every reminder in a pace of paper that joins the bunch of others on your desk? Are you addicted to stickers? Is your agenda and address book cluttered with annotations? Do you have 567 bookmarks in your home computer (not to say the ones at work)? Do you always synchronize what you have in your computer at home with the one in your office?

Well, I could continue describing one or other aspect of my own life that has been impacted by internet. With pages like iGoogle (a kind of dashboard with all kind of useful widgets) I found that in one page and wherever there is access to internet I had my favourite RSS feeds, conversion tools, calendar, email, weather reports, etc. at hand. Then, one after the other I started using specific web tools.

I needed to keep notes of whatever I was finding while browsing internet for a particular subject. The old way of saving bookmarks was not useful. I always ended with a bunch of links, many without a clear context to tell me why I saved them in the first place when revisited later. With Google Notebook I found that I could save, organize and select the important information at the same time that I was finding it (enhanced by the add-on for the Firefox browser). Even more, if I still valued a website as to give it a bookmark I found that social bookmarking sites like Delicious could just make the trick. The trick of not only keeping bookmarks but also to organize them by labels (tags) and have them accessible from any computer connected to the web.

Word processor and Spreadsheet (former Writely now Google Documents), Photo album (Flickr for example), online Calendar and Feeds reader (e.g. Google again) are all web tools that, as I mentioned before, not only have made collaboration and exchange with others (either for work or for entertainment) a simple routine in my life but also have saved it to be drowned in this ocean of information... where of course I have decided to swim.

I use many other web tools (OK I am going to mention Remember the Milk which has cured my addiction to sticky notes), I do not know about many more and there are others in development... for sure. But let me say some final words about another "phenomena" that I also have joined: websites for social networking. They are for me a kind of synthesis of what I have loosely described above. They take the spirit of dating sites but with people that you already know, they allow you to collaborate, share or play with others not only with words and images but with whatever tools and widgets that someone develop. I am not going to explain those sites here, I think that you better find out what are those sites like Facebook, MySpace, hi5 and Bebo about by yourself. Like the slogan of the VoIP (voice over IP) provider Skype says... take a deep breath!... now dive.

Friday, June 01, 2007

A reason, a season or a lifetime

At the end of my teenage I was moved by this part of Oscar Wilde's Ballad of Reading Gaol:

Yet each man kills the thing he loves
By each let this be heard,
Some do it with a bitter look,
Some with a flattering word,
The coward does it with a kiss,
The brave man with a sword!

Some kill their love when they are young,
And some when they are old;
Some strangle with the hands of Lust,
Some with the hands of Gold:
The kindest use a knife, because
The dead so soon grow cold.

Some love too little, some too long,
Some sell, and others buy;
Some do the deed with many tears,
And some without a sigh:
For each man kills the thing he loves,
Yet each man does not die.

The prison (or gaol) still exists and the poem was inspired by Charles Thomas Wooldridge, Trooper of Royal Horse Guards who was executed on 7 July 1896 for the murder of his wife and I would say by Wilde's own feelings of betrayal from his former lover. Feelings that he poured out in his long, long letter De profundis.

In November 2005 I remembered Oscar Wilde writings after experiencing a broken heart.

But that experience, that encounter, taught me that she was not the one to blame but my own expectations. At the end of De profundis, Oscar Wilde realizes how much he is to be blamed for his misfortune. Later I would put in words my own realizations here helped by other books and movies. A final conclusion of what I mean with saying that love is the journey not the destination came in another post.

Last week I received this quotation. It summarizes what I have learned since that night of November 2005:

People come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
When you know which one it is, you will know what to do for that person.

When someone is in your life for a REASON, it is usually to meet a
need you have expressed. They have come to assist you through a difficulty,
to provide you with guidance and support, to aid you physically, emotionally
or spiritually. They may seem like a godsend and they are. They are there
for the reason you need them to be. Then, without any wrongdoing on your
part or at an inconvenient time, this person will say or do something to
bring the relationship to an end. Sometimes they die. Sometimes they walk
away. Sometimes they act up and force you to take a stand. What we must
realize is that our need has been met, our desire fulfilled, their work is
done. The prayer you sent up has been answered and now it is time to move

Some people come into your life for a SEASON, because your turn has
come to share, grow or learn. They bring you an experience of peace or make
you laugh. They may teach you something you have never done. They usually
give you an unbelievable amount of joy. Believe it, it is real. But only for
a season.

LIFETIME relationships teach you lifetime lessons, things you must
build upon in order to have a solid emotional foundation. Your job is to
accept the lesson, love the person and put what you have learned to use in
all other relationships and areas of your life. It is said that love is
blind but friendship is clairvoyant.

Thank you for being a part of my life,
whether you are a reason, a season or a lifetime.

Thank YOU!

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Elvira Santamaria

Last 30th of March I went to Downtown Edmonton considering that the artist Elvira Santarmaria welcomes the participation of the public. It is called action-art and in her own words it means... "a larger term than performance. It's the art of creating experiencies, meaning through feeling. Not objects, although in the process objects can appear or create an experience. Action art is actions as art."

Some minutes after my arrival I took my jacket and my shoes off and gently I made myself at home in her temporal space at Latitude 53. Thoughts started to cross my mind while I was observing her in her actions. For some moments she was reading words from a universal history book while standing in front of a big spiral made of salt scattered on the floor. In fact, in different places of the room there were other patterns made of salt that she made during her hours of activity. In some other moments she laid on the floor, gradually blowing some of the spiral, traveling from the outside towards the centre of it. This combined action of blowing and reading gave me the impression that she was erasing the words because this spiral had for me the form of the glyph that Aztec paintings used to represent someone speaking. I thought that she was also remembering the past as her selected words from the history book were flowing. Was she contemplating the past? There were certainly people contemplating her work and taking pictures of her display while she was making her way through the spiral. Was she making the way or erasing the way that history has followed? A history of creation and destruction.

At the same time that I was observing her, submerged in my thoughts, one of her salt patterns was inviting me to let the impression of my hand on it. Of course I had a debate in my mind. Should I do it or not? I believed that her work invites the audience to participate, to act. However, I felt that putting my hand on her work, out of the blue, was somehow too childish. A child does these things without thinking, not an adult. The solution to my dilemma came when I realized that being an adult does not necessarily mean that I should not do some things but it means that the how I do things is different to that of a child. Obvious as it sounds, to put this in practice requires more than thinking. I can be watching Elvira, expecting a signal that allows me to participate, the "permission from the authority", while holding my wishes to act. I can hold myself only reflecting, like others seem to be doing.

"I am not proposing people interact with me. The way to people is through my actions, how I use the space, how people can be there or feel free to leave. That's the way I invite them" she clarifies.

I sat besides the salt pattern that was inviting me to put my hand on it. It was there, it was not mine and I was not sure that it was completely hers. I decided to let myself be part of the actions, not suddenly interrupting but spending some time watching what was the dynamics of the actions taking place in the room in order to act myself. Gently, I left an impression of my hand on the salt and it really didn't look well there. Being part of something brings responsibilities. I understood that one of the beauties of her apparent simple and futile pattern was due to the time that she spent doing it. As she pointed out in her lecture days before in the University, the stress is not in what to do but how to do it, completely present, with dedication and giving the appropriate time. I would like to eat my meals in the same way that she works.

My intervention in her space made me part of it, only in terms of how I wanted to be there. With the best of my intuition I inserted myself in the dynamics of the room starting to modified my hand print to better suit her pattern.

She and I speak Spanish and nevertheless, there we were, in an English speaking environment. Perhaps in her blows of the spiral she was erasing a language of words in favour of a language of responsible communitarian actions.

Monday, March 12, 2007


I have watched with fascination my friend's machimina, which has the interesting name Defragged. Of course those of you familiar with video games might not be surprised at all by such a name. After all, what else a grenade can do? If you are a computer versed creature you also know what the term means.

Now, what my friend's work does is, in my opinion, to "defrag" what her main character sees as reality.

Let me give you my own personal experience from watching the video. The beginning is a close reminder of a Quake game. Then, at a critical point I really had the feeling of a malfunction of the game that my friend intended to give us... but, is it a malfunction of the game? Recalling that the character was chasing Hossman before the malfunction a thought comes to my mind. Why the character didn't shoot merciless Hossman as it has been doing with others? It was not because of lack of ammo... maybe the failure is not in the program.

The character is now alone and in an introspective search that reminds me a David Lynch's movies situation, specially in the "mirror" scene of Lost Highway. The character here should know that the other is not his specular image in a mirror because of the side on which one of them are carrying their guns.

The clones are part of that introspective search that tests the boundaries of the character's perception. At the end, the single shot that kills the character is like a return to the real time, real space and the action of a snipper. However, when I realized that the score was -1 I just could think that the character somehow shoot himself.

For me, Defragged is a metaphore. Someone who kills merciless ends up alienating themselves and kills something inside them.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Bristol again

I am back for a short time in Bristol realizing that I feel here very much at home. This is not surprising after living here for four years. The ex-housemates are lovely and nothing seems to have changed a lot so far. Somehow I liked it this way.

I came back quickly and with a very limited amount of time to sort out some things from the past. Probably you have noticed that I have been thinking of my karma lately ;-)

Precisely and talking about karma I have an anecdote from my arrival to Heathrow. I found myself in the corresponding tube station queuing along a crowd of people. At some point I got distracted and when I payed attention again a tall guy was standing in front-besides me (it was the turn of the queue). I made him notice that I was standing (at least) in front of him before as I didn't remember seeing him when I started queuing. He said "yes, you were in front of me" but he didn't move a bit! =)

The corresponding tension was kept all the way until he helped the people in front of me (us) with the automatized ticket machine. From his heights he had a clear view of the situation. I thought that he could be not as an assh... as I suspected as he kindly gave help.

Eventually I got in front of him to the ticket machine, same machine that didn't take my card and left me with the decision of queuing again or ask for... for help to the tall guy. I had a fiver (five pounds note) and the resting 1.70 was somewhere in my luggage. He didn't want to lend me 1.70 pounds that I promised to give back as soon as we have got out of the queue.

Instead, he paid with his card the whole amount of my day travel card and didn't accept my money, saying goodbye with a "have a nice day". If I am learning well, the best thing at the end of our life is to have paid all our karma. I am very thankful with him for showing me another face of life in a crowded big London area.

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Dispelling illusions on the path

"People starting on the spiritual path often think it is full of silence, light and Om sounds, but it's a CRASH! Mental and emotional turbulence is not unusual on the spiritual path... It is a working through of our conditioning. It is a turbulent thing, it has to be. We're on this human plane, learning about being human...

"It is difficult when you have an idea that spiritual life and daily life are separate. What does it mean for you to lead a spiritual life? You have to be realistic.

"People play games to get what they want on the spiritual path. Why? Because they are not committed to the Light and they are not serious about finding out who they really are. There are many games:

  • The honesty game. You play at being honest, so honest that you're spectacularly honest. You can admit anything. Next week you can admit something else. The "honesty" becomes a substitute for change.
  • The child game. Acting like you can't do anything for yourself, that you are "spiritually helpless."
  • The humility game. You act very humble. Behind these actions there is a strong desire to be recognized as humble.
  • The justification game. Everything that you do has an excellent reason (for being done), so there is no room for the light to come in. There's no room for anything to come in. The rational mind takes over, figuring everything out and making it tidy.
  • The holy one game. Where you show all the actions and words of being holy, but there is no generosity or consideration, only the appearance of holiness.
  • The pseudo spiritual language game. Using words like "transcendence," "cosmic vision" or "one with the universe." The words are a facade when people don't want to look at themselves; the language loses its meaning.
  • The spiritual partner game. Using your partner as an excuse to not go forward with your own evolution. You "wait" and "support" the other so you can both go together. Nothing happens. Neither goes anywhere. What are you supporting?
  • The dream lover game. People often come to spiritual life looking for emotional gratificationa "dream lover" or "soulmate." If you are not looking for your own soul, what then is the purpose of a spiritual path?

"One thing for certain, the Light brings pressure. You might have the expectation that when you get to that point of being lighter, life will be easier. But the Light is bound to bring pressure. That's its job. Your faith will be tested. You may get into a painful situation or get despondent or depressed. Light will pressure you to question your life, your actions and what has brought you to this point. If you cooperate with the Light, it will give you the ability to see through your illusions.

"If you don't cooperate with your own evolution, or ignore the Light, things become worse. Look at your everyday situation. Is there tension, disagreement, conflict? The Light wants something changed so it will create this dissonance. This isn't a bad thing; it creates awareness that something has to be addressed. Will you just let it go, avoid the situation? Would that be compassionate?

"Compassion isn't "niceness." It can be fierce. The most compassionate action is to break the cycle of illusion. Illusions are built from unrealistic expectations. They create a sense of a false reality. That's the thing with the Light, it keeps breaking the pots. Krishna breaks the pots and keeps things moving, so your life doesn't become a museum...

"Can you see what really is and not just what you want to see?"

"Reality is always better than an illusion."

Extracts from the article:
Dispelling illusions on the path by swami radhananda

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Not another Sunday

So here I am this Sunday praising internet for what it has given us. This means praising YOU, the people who makes this wonder to shine. (I know I am not being original, Time magazine said it first)

Precisely the Bloggies 2007, let's say the Oscars for blogs, are open now to vote for the best of 2006. I am glad to see that one of my favourites, the Postsecret blog has been nominated in different categories.

The web is full of stuff but still can contain the most simple thing, in the form of a rude postcard (you have been warned), to be the expression of a many times misunderstood feeling =) By the way, if you clicked the link and before you start arguing that this is a very unique men "doing", check the Girl with a one-track mind blog out.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

"An incomplete education"

Libros, books, poemas!!: "An incomplete education"

"...taken to imply that you'll never entirely understand yourself..."

Friday, January 12, 2007


There is an image of Tara in my room. How it ended hanging on a wall is a simple story: My landlady was cleaning the unoccupied room besides mine and I spotted the image. I asked her if she is a Buddhist and she responded 'sort of '. She then offered the image for the naked walls of my new room. Later, I would find out that the house were we live serves also as a yoga center for a spiritual community based in British Columbia (the province to the west of Edmonton and where Vancouver is).

The inspiration for this community can be traced to the person of Swami Sivananda. A woman from the west, who was his disciple, brought to Canada his teachings and put on them a special emphasis in the feminine spirit. I see this specially relevant as it happened in 1956. A "spiritual feminism" imported from India may not sound strange for the 70s or even the 60s, but for the 50s I suppose she was a pioneer in a world that was asking for changes.

Changes are either radical or require, like I see in this case, a syncretism, an open and eclectic mind that mixes the old way of thinking with new ways. Finding myself living in a Yoga centre was motivation enough to participate in the activities. I have seen in those activities the mixture of the Christian tradition with Hinduism and Buddhism and this suited me perfectly. I have wondered before if Christ was a Buddhist himself and I have been increasingly interested in Buddhism.

In Buddhism, Buddha is not seen as a god detached from this world and humans. In a sense, God, the Light, the Highest is everything and a Buddha is a human being who has become aware and part of that totality. The experience of concepts like ego grasping, duality, and delusion is a barrier in our life for the achievement of that awareness. To overcome that barrier is not an easy goal to achieve. I'm happy that I found this house and people in Edmonton. Together with the people and good friends that I have found in the past, they make feel this samsara like a better one.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007


In UK you hear about blazes here in Edmonton, Canada is more common to hear about blizzards.

A blizzard is a blizzard but nothing like the first one in your life. In other words, I am thinking that surprises can come with the apparently insignificant and common things of everyday life.

"Cada quien habla de la feria como le va en ella" (each ones opinion about the funfair is in direct proportion to the kind of experiences that you have on it) is a Mexican say that expresses that, what can be a hell for someone, is a heaven for someone else. This is either because the experiences are different or because the same experience is seen from a different perspective.

From my part I am happy to see that a bus driver waits for you if they see you running to the bus stop. Then it is not wonder for me why those drivers that have the same schedule every day, make acquaintances and friends from their regular users.

Here in Edmonton cents are to take and to leave . There is usual to have on the counter of a shop a container where people can leave their cents. Is that for a charity? No. If you have to pay $1.03, the cashier will take those 3 cents from the container and accept one dollar from you. For this to work you have to leave there or in a similar container somewhere else, those cents that make your pocket bulky. "Take a penny, leave a penny". (As a subject besides but talking about money, yes, Elizabeth II appears in coins and notes and her portrait ages =)

The F word is an old folk in these parts of the world and I don't mean only the streets. Not that my colleges and I are extensively users of it but you hear it in the TV, in the radio, read it in the newspapers and nobody seams to blink an eye. Still someone may have the politeness to write: "However, if I may be so bold as to speak candidly, where the fuck is this money going to come from?".

Jaywalking or crossing a street not using the designated areas for that (e.g. crossing in the middle of the block instead of the corner) is an unknown concept in UK as it is common place to cross a road wherever convenient. In Edmonton, apart from being illegal, in some cases the police have taken it seriously.

A news writer shared her impressions about her moving from Toronto to Alberta and ended them saying: "Holy Mother, it’s unbelievably cold! Dry cold or not, it’s much, much worse than Ontario. And I’ve never seen so much snow in my life. But still, people wear running shoes! In Toronto, we’d have called in the army long ago. Edmontonians, you’re a tough bunch."

Where are we going today....? Find your place using this interactive map

  • Muttart Conservatory
  • International Airport
  • Princess Theatre
  • Garneau Theatre
  • Citadel
  • Whyte Ave.

Search the blogsphere (results below)

Search Results