Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Daycare Strike Averted

This just in, five minutes ago....

Hi All,
At 5 am today mediation ended with a signed settlement. This means that there will not be a strike!

The settlement does need to be ratified by our employees and this will happen early next week.

The first collective agreement (we have been told ), is always the most difficult. We are pleased that we have signed a three year agreement and are thrilled to be sharing the news of this happy outcome for all.

Our employees, directors and parents have all been incredibly patient, professional and optimistic during this lengthy process. We appreciate everyone's support and recognize that we all have a common goal-offering high quality child care.

We will continue to work together and trust that the children will develop and thrive in our centres. Caring for them is our first priority.

As always, please do not hesitate to be in touch.

With warm regards,

(President of Kids and Company)

Monday, November 26, 2007

Only 3 Days Until the Strike!

Amado's daycare workers are set to strike on Thursday unless they are able to work out an agreement with Kids and Company. We haven't been able to find anyone available to watch him in December, though we will be able to cover a day here and a day there between Wendy and I, and friends and family.

CUPE has posted a letter from a parent that is similar to the one I sent, though stronger.

New WonderCafe Ads

The new set of WonderCafe ads we developed were released a couple of weeks ago. I think they're pretty NICE. You can check them out here.

This one says, "And God said, Let there be energy efficient, fluorescent light." The window was designed by an actual stainglass master here in Toronto.

New Music: Led Zeppelin - The Song Remains the Same

Well, not exactly new since this was one of my favourite albums in the late 70s. But I have haven't heard it since, and it's newly remastered, so I picked it up at iTunes. Crank it, it still rocks.

I remember in the summer of 1979 almost every weekend (it seemed) Sharon, the Boyz and I would drive down from Phelan to La Puente in LA to catch the midnight showing of The Song Remains the Same. It was incredible to see Led Zeppelin perform this concert on a huge screen with huge sound. But it was about a two hour drive, and the midnight show ended just before 3:00 a.m. So now I'm thinking...was I crazy?

Thursday, November 22, 2007

First Snow 2007

If you look carefully, you might be able to see some of the snowflakes falling this morning. It's actually snowing more than this Treo picture shows, but the weather report says we won't get more than 20 cm (7 inches).

Happy Thanksgiving to my American peeps out there! I'd rather be eating turkey and watching football games with ya'll today!

For the Lives that Could Have Been

" I think I know what Johnny Cash means when he says he wears black for the poor and the hungry, for the prisoners, for those who never read the words of Jesus, for the sick, the old and 'for the reckless ones whose bad trip left them cold....I wear the black in mourning for the lives that could have been,' as Johnny sings."

This is from Lorette C. Luzajic's article on WonderCafe that I mentioned a couple of days back. It reminds me of my Mom's powerful tribute to Johnny Cash and to her sister (my aunt) who died on this day in 2000.

My Mom did a reading of her tribute on KUSP radio and I have a recording of it, but I haven't been able to figure out where to post it so everyone could hear it. I will one day, I'm sure.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Only One Week Until the Daycare Strike...

The workers at Amado's daycare became unionized a year ago and have not been able to work out a collective agreement with Kids and Company. On Oct. 19 they voted to take strike action.

I spoke with a CUPE union representative yesterday who told me that the Early Childhood Education teachers at Kids and Company make significantly less than other ECEs in Toronto, and don't receive worker's comp and other benefits.

I don't know if that's true, but there's been such heavy turnover of teachers since Amado started at Kids and Company in September that we figured something wasn't right. I've actually lost count of the teachers and assistants he's had there in just 2 1/2 months.

On the other hand, Kids and Company was ranked as one of the Top 50 Growth Companies in Canada this year and their CEO Victoria Sopik was selected as one of Canada's Top Women Entrepreneurs by Canadian Business magazine. According to CUPE, Kids and Company had a profit of 1,621% between 2003-2005, before they started expanding. The business doesn't appear to be struggling.

A daycare strike would really be hard on us. We have no idea what we are going to do with Amado. But a better work agreement for the teachers and assistants could really help create a more stable environment for Amado and the rest of the kids.

Long Live the Queen (oh yeah, and her hubby too)!

Yesterday as I drove to work I listened on the radio (CBC2) to person after person dedicate music to Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Phillip on the occasion of their 60th wedding anniversary. An official representative from The Monarchist League of Canada even came on to request a classical composition called "The Bridal Path" to mark the occasion.

It's times like these I am reminded I don't live in California anymore.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

The Astronaut's Wife

There's a great guest speaker column over at WonderCafe by Lorette C. Luzajic, author of The Astronaut’s Wife: Poems of Eros and Thanatos. The author tells the sad tale of her husband's death by crystal meth. She's a beautiful writer. The article is in the left column.

Above is her painting, The Astronaut's Wife, which is filled with symbols of her late husband. There are more samples of her painting and writing on her website, The Creativity Vault.

Monday, November 19, 2007

Bub Bub

Amado attempts to enjoy the tasty bubbles at his dad's birthday party, Nov. 15, 2007. (If you want to hear him attempt to speak, turn your sound on!)

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Some Post-Birthday Reflections

1) "As the drop poured into the ocean is the ocean, not the ocean the drop, so the soul drawn into God is God, not God the soul. The soul is in God as God is in God." --Meister Eckhart
2) I need to remember I was born an artist.
3) Don't forget where I came from.
4) Don't forget where I'm going.
5) Honour my temple (which is Christianese for "a little exercise wouldn't kill you").
6) Yesterday, the moment Wendy threw her back out, I knew that our weekend was not going to go as planned. She's still in bed and in a lot of pain. I definitely know what she is going through, having been there before.
7) I'm sorry I won't be able to go to the Santa Cruz flea market again.
8) I am thankful for my birthday gifts: a blender, Raptor tickets, Ondaatje's Divisadero, some great phone calls from family, among other cool things.
9) Amado and I have had a bad cold for a week now. That should be long enough.
10) The Toronto Argonauts are playing the Winnipeg Bombers for the CFL Eastern Championship right at the moment (2nd quarter, Winnipeg leads 11-1). I wonder why I am rooting for Winnipeg, when I live in Toronto and the game is happening just down the road. Worse, why am I more interested in the Detroit Lions game on the other channel?

Above, Huntington Beach, Calif. in happier days.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Many Years Ago...

...this little kid was born on this day somewhere east of L.A. I'm still trying to figure him out!

The History of Barrios Unidos

My review of the book, The History of Barrios Unidos is now posted in the current issue of Sojourners. Barrios Unidos is an organization that works to develop alternatives to gang violence and build opportunities for youth. Frank de Jesus Acosta did a great job on this book. It's an essential read for anyone working to build a not-for-profit organization of any kind, I would say.

Once upon a time I was working on a book with Barrios Unidos founder, Nane Alejandrez (above). That book, a more personal story of Nane's spiritual path, still deserves to be written. It's a tremendous story that would inspire many.

Check out the review and then subscribe to Sojourners. For many, many years now they have been doing a great job of raising deserving stories like that of Barrios Unidos to a wider audience.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Lest We Forget

"I am become death, the destroyer of worlds"
--Robert Oppenheimer, Trinity 1945

Oppenheimer, one of the creators of the atomic bomb, said he thought of these words from the Bhagavad Gita when he witnessed the first atomic bomb explosion.

That's all I could think of when I saw the stunning picture above from the a 1970 French test of a thermonuclear bomb in the South Pacific. (See the full set here.)

Evil. Lest we forget.

[Thanks to Jordon Cooper for the link.]

Friday, November 09, 2007

Happy Birthday to My Dad

Today would have been my Dad's 69th birthday. He died at 33, so it's hard to imagine him that old. I always wonder what it would have been like if he had lived longer. Judging by his smile in this photo, I think the years may have turned out good for him.

Thursday, November 08, 2007

Good Morning Toronto XVI

From a picture Irene took this past summer when her and my Mom were in Toronto. Nice!

Pat Robertson Endorses Giuliani

Maybe I'm up in the middle of the night looking for stuff that will put me to sleep, but I just thought I would say that Pat Robertson's endorsement will bring Giuliani exactly zero new votes.

The Music Determines Who's Going to Come

A non-sarcastic article in the New York Times about evangelical Christianity. Victorville certainly didn't have anything like this in the late 70s when I was growing up nearby.
The house bands that play every weekend in High Desert Church in Victorville, California — there are a dozen or so — scavenge some of their musical style from the radio and television. They reflect popular taste, though with lyrics about the power of God, not teenage turmoil.

They are not aiming for commercial success. Church-based Christian rock — often referred to as C.C.M., for contemporary Christian music — does not exist primarily to compete in mainstream culture; it exists first to bring together a community.

“When you start a church,” said Tom Mercer, 52, the senior pastor, “you don’t decide who you’re going to reach and then pick a music style. You pick a music style, and that determines who’s going to come.”

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

New Music

John McLaughlin and I are perhaps the only two people in the world who have never given up on jazz fusion. On this newish album, McLaughlin's amazing guitar is totally synthed out, and blends really nicely with some electronica, some Qawwali, and tons of brilliant percussion. But it's still essentially jazz fusion, in many ways an updated version of what McLaughlin's Mahavishnu Orchestra was playing in the early 70s.

Industrial Zen features songs dedicated to Micheal Brecker, Carlos Santana, Wayne Shorter, Jaco Pastorius, and the Dalai Lama. I can't stop listening to it!

Check out an interesting review here.

Monday, November 05, 2007


Amado's new favourite activity is to go to the park and feed crackers to the squirrels. I wish you could have seen his look of astonishment when the first squirrel took a cracker and ran up a tree!

Saturday, November 03, 2007

Carlos and Deborah

The sad news that Carlos and Deborah Santana are divorcing after 34 years of marriage caught me by surprise. I've had several opportunities to meet each of them and have always thought they were the perfect compliment for one another. Deborah's memoirs, Space Between the Stars (2005), revealed that all was not perfect in their marriage though. In the book she seemed like she was ready to step out on her own if things couldn't be healed, and I guess that's what happened. Still very sad news to me.

Above, happier days in 1977.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Fall Leaves

After the Halloween party, Amado and I went for a nice stroller ride in High Park.

Happy Halloween?

Not impressed by candy, Amado quickly became distracted at his daycare's Halloween party. (By the way, we think he was a lizard.)