Monday, July 31, 2006

Feelin' It

According to our weather report, it feels like it's 113F (45C) outside today. Um, wow. For this first time all summer everyone in our house can agree that it's hot. But don't worry heat-haters, in most of Canada you're never too far from winter.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Sunday Morning

Pictures of Amadisto without a hand or a foot in his mouth are becoming rare.

Qana, Lebanon

1) Qana, Lebanon. Today more than 50 civilians were killed, including at least 37 children, when the building they were taking shelter in was bombed.

2) Condi Rice says she is filled with "deep sadness over this tragic loss of life." She should be, since she could have stopped the Israel attack on Lebanon with just a word.

3) Israel says this was, sadly, a mistake.

4) Some Canadian-related mistakes by the Israeli Defense Force in the past weeks: 7 Canadian tourists, all from the same family, killed when they were bombed while trying to escape Southern Lebanon. 1 Canadian U.N. Observer killed when the IDF bombed a U.N. Observation post. Still, Canadian leader Stephen Harper continues to support the military action. He seems to do whatever Bush wants him to do.

5) This isn't the first time people taking shelter in Qana have been bombed by the IDF. In 1996, a UN refugee centre in Qana was destroyed by the IDF, killing more than 100 civilians taking shelter there. I warn you, DO NOT do a Google image search about this. You will not like what you find.

6) Qana is considered by many to be the site where Jesus performed his first miracle, turning water to wine.

7) Hold your baby close to you.

Monday, July 24, 2006

The Flying Bird

It was not before the glow of morning and the first bustle outside his town house that he fell asleep, that he found a half numbing, an inkling of sleep for a few moments. And in those moment he had a dream:

Kamala kept a small, rare songbird in a gold cage. He dreamed about this bird. He dreamed that this bird, which normally sang in the morning, had grown mute, and noticing this, he went over to the cage and peered inside. The little bird was dead, lying stiff on the bottom. He took it out, weighed it in his hand for a moment and then threw it away, out into the street---and at that same moment, he was terribly frightened, and his heart ached as if, with this dead bird, he had thrown away all value and all goodness.

Jumping up from this dream, he felt a profound sadness. He had, it seemed to him, been leading a worthless life, worthless and senseless; no living thing, no precious thing, nothing worth keeping had remained in his hands. He stood alone and empty like a castaway on a shore....

Now Siddhartha knew that the game was done, that he could play no longer. A shudder ran through his body: inside him, he felt, something had died....

That same hour of night Siddhartha left his garden, left the town, and never came back. For a long time Kamaswami, who thought he had fallen into the hands of highwaymen, sent out men to look for him. But Kamala sent no one to look for him. When she learned Siddhartha had disappeared, she was not surprised. Had she not always expected it? Was he not a samana, a homeless wanderer, a pilgrim?....

When she heard the first news of Siddhartha's disappearance, she stepped over to the window, where she kept a rare songbird in a gold cage. She opened the door of the cage, took out the bird, and let it fly. She watched and watched it, the flying bird.

--from Siddhartha, by Herman Heese

Saturday, July 22, 2006


As all the nations struggle to get their citizens out of Lebanon, what about the Lebanese themselves?

Sojourners editor Jim Rice offers an excellent column on the crisis and what folks can do. Go to the original to read the whole thing in context, which is more nuanced than this excerpt I've selected:

"....But Israel's use of military attacks in response to acts of terror raises many questions. The most important, perhaps, revolves around the issue of legitimate self defense vs. collective punishment. Israel is indeed surrounded by sworn enemies, including many who are demonstrably willing to violently destroy Israel. But does the real need for security justify the massively disproportionate response to an act of terror? Is the collective punishment of an entire population ever morally and ethically justified?...."

Above: Scenes from Lebanon. A woman flees on the road to Syria. A man surveys the damage.

Friday, July 21, 2006

Taco de Ojo

I could list the errors in this taco hunting story, but why bother? (Ok, just one: Pico Union can only be considered "across town" from East LA if you're running from a bunch of vatos who are trying to jump you.) It still does a decent job covering just a tiny sampling of the taquerias on the California that's my idea of a dream assignment! The reporter missed Tacos Morenos in Santa Cruz, which is the real deal. But Taqueria Vallarta isn't bad either. I keep hoping to find just one great taqueria in Toronto, but no luck so far. The reporter even discovers a taqueria in Pescadero! (What is this, "Pescadero Week" on Alma's Soulfood?)

Here's a clip from The New York Times article:

Having barebacked it sans gringo toppings all the way from Los Angeles, I decide to indulge my American peccadilloes and load them up with guacamole, sour cream and cheese. In the Mission, this is called the “super taco.”

Three carnitas are placed neatly shell to shell. At first blush, San José’s, filled to the breaking point with rice and beans, looks doomed. La Taqueria’s is clearly the looker — fresh ingredients folded gingerly into a wax paper pocket. But scraping aside the mound of rice on the San José taco, I am blown away. The pork is charred perfectly — crispy on the edges, with a center so sweet it brings a tear to the ojo.

The photo above comes from a taco blog, which covers the "Los Angeles Taco Scene":

Yes, we taco lovers are that into it.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

I was an 80s Sandinista

...or at least an ardent supporter of the Sandinistas. July 19 was the 27th anniversary of the Sandinista revolution in Nicaragua. Looking back, I can see how the Sandinista movement and the large number of revolutionary Christians in it changed the course of my life, turning me from fundamentalist Christianity to a more holistic, social justice-oriented faith.

But over the years I became disillusioned with them, starting when I made a trip to Nicaragua in 1985 and learned that living in a revolutionary state perhaps wasn't all it was cracked up to be.

Still, I remember how in the early 80s how the Sandinista revolution was really a sign of hope that poor people could free themselves from bondage and oppression and work together to build a new society. Who knows how it all might have turned out if it hadn't happened during the hottest years of the Cold War, when Reagan and the Soviets all had their hands in what happened in Central America.

Just today I am surprised to read in Wikipedia that it was the KGB that originally started the FSLN (Sandinista National Liberation Front). Is this true? Of course, that is what the Republicans claimed throughout the 80s, but is it now confirmed? Does it make a difference to all of those who died for the liberation of Nicaragua? Did any of it make a difference?

(By the way, I believe the answer to this last question is "yes," but sometimes I have to wonder.)

Wendy and Amadisto

Monday, July 17, 2006

Four Seasons

This week it's been one year since we moved into our place. Having grown up in California, having four distinct seasons is one of the most exotic things about living in Toronto. Many of the old timers say that even here in Toronto the seasons aren't what they used to be. Could global warming be muting the seasonal differences? Apparently in Canada's far north global warming is having a serious effect. In Toronto I already notice the seasonal changes aren't as dramatic as when I first moved here. I hope it's just a short-term trend and not a sign of permanent environmental damage. It would be a terrible loss.

Above: One year of our views, clockwise, from top left: Spring, Winter, Summer, Fall


Here's a piece of computer art I did around 1994 with the first version of Windows Paintbox I got. Back then, after using DOS for some years, having colours on a computer was a big deal. You will have to bring your own interpretation to this piece, because I'm not going to explain it. But even today, I still think it's kind of cool.

Sunday, July 16, 2006



Pescadero Mary

My mom or Irene took this picture at the cemetery in Pescadero, California, which is a small town about 40 miles north of Santa Cruz on the Pacific coast. What a nice photo, I hope they don't mind if I steal it!

I abhor the idea of being buried in a cemetery, but if I had to be, Pescadero is one place I could possibly tolerate it happening.

By the way, "Pescadero" means "fisherman" in Spanish, which will give you an idea of who likely founded this village.

Here's the satellite link.

First Cousin Once Removed...

...and now replaced.

Cousin Geoffrey (who is actually Wendy's cousin and "first cousin once removed" to Amado) stopped by on his North American tour and spent the night on Friday. We had a great Indian dinner, a fantastic Canadian breakfast (complete with soy sausage --- "good for the heart, eh"), and a lot of just plain fun. It is so great to see him after several years in Korea teaching English, where, sadly, he's returning to in a couple of weeks. (Our, Canada's loss.) Suffice to say we would love it if he came back for good, but no pressure man.

Bonus Post
Cousin Geoffrey Fun Fact #1:
In the early 90s, Geoffrey was once a member of a band called "The Condiments" which caused the girls to swoon throughout Hamilton's Hess Village. And, no, they didn't play salsa.

I get the last gulab-jamun ball...

...or the baby comes back to Korea with me.

(Gulab-jamun is a fantastic Indian dessert of "brown milk balls served with rose water syrup." Of course, we gave Uncle-Cousin Geoffrey-san whatever he desired during his visit for dinner.)

Saturday, July 15, 2006


At first I thought my Mom, Irene, and their friend Joyce were very brave for going over to Iraq, voting in the election, and getting their thumbs ink-dipped to prove it. Then I realized it was just a berry-picking expedition to Pescadero. Still brave though.

Thursday, July 13, 2006

Atta Kim

If I were in New York, and say my daughter was away at summer camp or something, I would go see this show of the photography of Atta Kim at the International Center of Photography.

An article in the New York Times says, "although Mr. Kim is careful to assert that he is not a practicing Buddhist, core Buddhist concepts shape the new work. One is the notion that change, or transience, is the only concrete reality, and that time as a quantifiable, linear entity is a mirage. All time and no time are the same. A couple making love for an hour is a cloud of luminosity."

(That's the picture at the top. I don't think the lower picture is included in this show, but it's cool anyway.)

(P.S. In case anyone wondered and can't tell from the picture, those are little plastic Buddhas surrounding the little boy on the shore. Just in case you wondered.)

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Seurat's Sunday Afternoon

Wow. These folks took the time to restage George Seurat's “Sunday Afternoon on the Island of LaGrande Jatte.” It looks really great. See more about it here:

I'm impressed by the amount of organization this must have taken, right down to the sailboat and the black dog. But what, couldn't they find a monkey? (See the monkey in the original at the feet of the woman with the umbrella?) People just don't pay attention to detail like they once did.

Once again, I found this via the blog of blogs, Heading East ( I have to give Mr. Gutierrez his due props (or is that his "props due" ?)

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

He's a man of few words... fact, zero. But that doesn't mean Amado doesn't make his thoughts known. He laughs, cries, coos, and screams. And he is also very expressive non-verbally as well: holding his arms spread wide when he wants to be picked up, and kicking and stomping his left leg to show his dissatisfaction with something, like when daddy leaves him alone in his play chair and blogs on the Internet. (Actually, I am holding the little guy in my arms right now!)

Above: Amado whispers sweet nothings into a stuffed elephant's ear.

Sunday, July 09, 2006

Viva Italia!

Amado celebrates the World Cup victory of the Italians in his own little way. This one is for Grandma Coop who wondered what the baby was up to today.

Also, what in the world could Zidane have been thinking??? I've never seen a bigger snap in a bigger player in a bigger game in my life!

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Torre Latinoamericana

Mexico City, 2003.

The Torre Latinoamericana is in the heart of Mexico City. I'm not sure when it was built, but it looks to be at least 40 years old, meaning it's withstood several big earthquakes. Still, I don't think I'll ever be taking a trip up to the observation deck. Note that unlike contemporary skyscrapers, it has windows which can be opened all the way up.

Thanks for indulging me as I take some of my snapshots from our trip to Mexico in 2003 and see what I can do to them using PhotoShop. I think I made some of them more interesting...but is it art?

Friday, July 07, 2006

Yes, she really is Superwoman!

me playing guitar

Attention Carlos Santana! You better watch your back man, this young woman has got the chops! She's tearing it up on Santana's "Song of the Wind." WOW!


Mexico City, 2003

In the Time of SARS

Back in spring 2003 the SARS epidemic hit Toronto and the other places around the world. For a couple of weeks you could see some people wearing surgical masks on the subway and it was obvious that folks got antsy if they were crowded together in a confined space. And with good reason--44 people here in Toronto died from the mysterious disease. It was a little scary around here until it was determined that SARS was pretty much only being spread in hospitals.

I've forgotten why Wendy had to get the masks. It may have been during the time she worked in the addiction centre at St. Joseph's Hospital (which I guess would have been cause for concern). We took this picture to send out to family and friends just to show that we were doing ok and taking all the necessary precautions: Wendy wore the surgical mask when needed. I--obviously--was too cool to catch the disease.

Wednesday, July 05, 2006


Taxco, Mexico, 2003

Sleepy, Smiley

When I get home after Amado has fallen asleep--which is too often--it brings me to tears when he slightly wakes up, sees my face, and attempts a very sleep-blurred smile to greet me.

This is something I can't take a picture of.

Please Note

1) Hamid Sardar
I'm on the run again today, but I thought the least I could do is share some utterly amazing photographs of Hamid Sardar (Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Tibet), again via one of my favourite blogs, Heading East.

2) Miss American Pie
There's a nice review in The New York Times of Margaret Sartor's diary, Miss American Pie, which records her teenage years in Louisiana through the early 1970s. It may just be a book geared for the blog-era when otherwise sane people believe that the daily noting of life's minutiae is somehow important or meaningful (um, see below), but nevertheless the review includes samples like this which caught my eye:

"At dinner, Daddy said, 'I'm confident life will never be dull for you.' Then he gave me a calculator."

3) Goooooool!!!!!!
I just caught the overtime periods of the World Cup game of Italy vs. Germany yesterday. The Italian goals to win it in the final minutes were totally exhilarating and a perfect example of why millions of people around the world love the intense tension-and-release of the game of soccer. St. Clair Street in Toronto has been shut down most of the night with celebrations. Viva Italia!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Seoul Survivor

Tonight we had the chance to welcome Cousin Geoffrey back to Canada from his extended stay in South Korea, where he is teaching English. We haven't seen him in two years! We only had a little more than an hour together at the airport in Toronto before he had to catch the "Robert Q. Airbus" to London, Ontario where his family lives. Nevertheless, it was great to see him and get to know his entourage a little better. Oh, that's us.

Street Racer

That's me in June 1963, getting ready to take my uncle's MG for a spin around the neighbourhood, which I believe was El Monte. I must have been drooling over the opportunity, as you can see I was wearing not one, but two bibs for this big adventure.

Coop & Irene's Patio Make-Over

My Mom and Irene have just added a new mural to their most amazing patio at their house in Santa Cruz. Above, the artist, who I believe goes by the handle Kleya Forte-Escamilla, shows off her newly finished work of art. This is truly stunning! We can't wait to see it in person. Once this project is completely wrapped up I hope to post some pictures that show off the whole's a really beautiful space that shows the creativity of the two artists who live there (who are of course my Mom and Irene).

Sunday, July 02, 2006


Shogo Kubo

Glen E. Friedman took some amazing skate photos in the 1970s. Our skate crew in P*Land idolized the skaters he shot, but these days I just idolize his photography.

Above: Shogo Kubo, one of the most underrated of Dogtown's Z-Boyz. (Click on the photo to enlarge it.) One of my favourite skates back in the day was a red air-beam Shogo model put out by Dogtown Skates. I snapped it in half somewhere, I think at Derby Park in Santa Cruz doing aerials off the hump.

Those were the days.

Saturday, July 01, 2006

O Canada

Today is Canada Day. I'm not usually the type who pays much attention to the artificial boundaries of nation states (unless it has to do with the World Cup or the World Baseball Classic), but I have to say that I am proud to live in Canada, even though I'm not a citizen yet.

Canada is certainly not a perfect country (those born here tend to see this more clearly than I do), but in many ways it is trying to take steps in the right direction---such as offering health care for all, legalizing gay marriage, being open to immigration, being cautious about participating in the "war on terror," and many other things.

Perhaps these positions can be taken because Canada only has a population of about 30 million people and it is so rich compared to many other parts of the world. I think sometimes people here don't recognize the pressures and real dangers that people in other countries (including the United States) face which causes them to take the positions they do. But there is also something deep within Canada culture and heritage that compels us to err toward compassion in every area except the hockey rink. This tendency is eroding as Canada becomes ever more Americanized and complex, but at least from my perspective it is still pretty strong. This year, I hope to take the step to full citizenship and make a commitment to "stand on guard" for Canada and help build a culture of even greater kindness.

Did you know I will have to take an oath to Queen Elizabeth? Yes, it's true.