Spring Gillard

Kafka Love

"German antique doll" by gailf548 - originally posted to Flickr as German Doll. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons -

“German antique doll” by gailf548 – originally posted to Flickr as German Doll. Licensed under CC BY 2.0 via Wikimedia Commons –

I read some Kafka at university – such as the short story, In the Penal Colony. I don’t remember him being exactly uplifting, but this is a wonderful story about him that’s been floating around on Facebook recently.

Franz Kafka, the story goes, encountered a little girl in the park where he went walking daily. She was crying. She had lost her doll and was desolate.

Kafka offered to help her look for the doll and arranged to meet her the next day at the same spot. Unable to find the doll he composed a letter from the doll and read it to her when they met.

‘Please do not mourn me, I have gone on a trip to see the world. I will write you of my adventures.’ This was the beginning of many letters. When he and the little girl met he read to her from these carefully composed letters the imagined adventures of the beloved doll. The little girl was comforted.

When the meetings came to an end Kafka presented her with a doll. She obviously looked different from the original doll. An attached letter explained: ‘my travels have changed me…’

Many years later, the now grown girl found a letter stuffed into an unnoticed crevice in the cherished replacement doll. In summary it said: ‘every thing that you love, you will eventually lose, but in the end, love will return in a different form.’ —from Kafka & the Doll: The Pervasiveness of Loss, by May Benatar

Dancing in the Rain

Sylvain Émard Danse’s Le Grand Continental debuts at the Vancouver 2015 PuSh Festival. 70 Vancouverites of varying ability gather to learn, rehearse and perform in this feel-good civic dance event of the year! A work colleague of mine is in it, so I’m going to check it out. The performances are at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre plaza January 24th and 25th, with two times each day: 1 pm and 4 pm. Read more about it here.

No tickets necessary just come along and enjoy the 30 minute outdoor performance – likely in the rain.

Service or Marketing?

14424-botI got this email and a mailed notice warning me that I may lose my Shaw service unless I sign up for their digital box. Funny thing is, I received a similar email a couple years or so ago when they were “upgrading” my neighbourhood to digital. I didn’t buy in then and all my channels were still “viewable.” This message is more threatening. Is it true? Or is it marketing? Might be time for an upgrade, but I think it’ll be Netflix.

To keep your TV service
working, call us today.

Your neighbourhood’s network is being 
upgraded to digital.

Shaw’s digital network upgrade will be completed in your neighbourhood on February 19, 2015. This upgrade is one of many ways in which we are enhancing our extensive network, delivering more channels and our best Internet service to your home.

To keep your TV service working, call us as soon as possible to order your complimentary Digital Box.*

With a Shaw Digital Box, you’ll enjoy:

Up to 23 additional channels at no extra charge
A real-time Interactive Programming Guide
A more intuitive remote control

Simply call 1-888-406-9085 and we’ll send a Shaw installer to your home to set it up and show you how to use it at no cost.*

Call us now at 1-888-406-9085 to keep your TV service working.

Dragon Fruit

DSCN5443I love working in Chinatown with all the gorgeous and colourful tropical fruits displayed in the markets. Orange persimmons, garnet pomegranates, and the exotic, pink and green Dragon Fruit. This aptly named fruit is also called pitahaya, from the genus Hylocereus – the fruits of several cactus species grown in warm climed countries from Australia to Thailand. I bought my first one DSCN5452this week which was from Vietnam. I wasn’t sure how to prepare it at first, but all you do is cut off the dragon “scales.” Then there’s another layer of pink beneath the outer coat. You can peel that back to reveal the white flesh and black seeds. It almost looks like a kiwi. It is mildly sweet and low in calories. Remember the book by Shani Mootoo, Cereus Blooms at Night? Well, it does. Big white fragrant flowers. Hoping the powerful fruit will help me slay this thesis.

Birds, The Musical

birdsSong sheet available on line. All resting notes. Music to my ears.

Not My Scene

theoryI have tried to get in to see the Theory of Everything at the Cineplex 5th Avenue Cinema four times in the last 3 weeks. Gone are the days when people queued up at my neighbourhood theatre to get their tickets, chatting with other theatre goers in line. Everyone buys their tickets on line now. Even though I have tried different evenings and have been 30 to 45 minutes early each time, I haven’t made it in. They mustn’t reserve any seats for walk ins. The third time when I looked exasperated, the young ticket agent said, “Buy on line, early.” My beef with that is I feel coerced. Back when the theatre was locally owned by Festival Cinemas, I used to buy an annual membership for $20 that got me reduced movie prices and discounts on treats. Once they sold out to Cineplex, prices went up and popcorn sizes went down. When a friend and I lamented at the candy counter how we miss the good old days, the staff person chimed in, “Me too.” I did finally register for a Cineplex Scene card – which you also have to do on line – and I have already earned a free movie. Seniors or people without computer access are out of luck on the discount card though. As my own little protest, I am refusing to buy my tickets on line. And if I miss the movie in the theatre, then I guess I’ll rent it. No not from an old fashioned neighbourly video store, from a little Red-box at Safeway.

Greece is the Word

A couple of beautiful scenes from Greece thanks to Green Renaissance on Facebook.

greecechairAir Patio – Greece. Stone traditional mountain house applying natural hand-made materials respecting the traditional architecture and the environment of Mount Pelion, Greece.
By Dimitris Philippitzis

greecegardenSuspended Cliff Garden at Meteora, Greece. Photo: Whilome via 1001 Gardens

Bike Cafés

bikeSimon Fraser has an interesting talk on Sustainable Transportation coming up as well as a series of Bike Cafés. Check it out.

SFU Philospopher’s Café and The City Program are pleased to introduce a series of Bike Cafés, which will take place along major commuter cycling routes at cyclist friendly coffee bars in Vancouver. This new series engages with Vancouver’s cycling community and others interested in discussions regarding the sustainable evolution of our cityscape.

All Weather Cycling – January 13, 6 p.m.
Venue: Musette Caffe Chinatown (75 E. Pender St.)
Moderator: Richard Campbell

Building the Bicycle Culture We Want – January 29, 7 p.m.
Venue: Tricycle (2685 Maple St.)
Moderator: Chris Bruntlett

Cycling and Generational Politics – February 10, 6 p.m.
Venue: Musette Caffe Chinatown 
Moderator: Gordon Price

Cycling and Automated Vehicles  - February 26, 7 p.m.

Venue: Tricycle

Moderator: Richard Campbell

What Are the Links Between Transportation Choice, Affordability and Happiness?  - March 10, 6 p.m.
Venue: Musette Chinatown 
Moderator: Erin O’Melinn

Bridging the (Cycling) Gender Gap  - March 26, 7 p.m.
Venue: Tricycle
Moderator: Melissa Bruntlett

Car Free Streets in Vancouver – April 14, 6 p.m.
Venue: Musette Chinatown
Moderator: Richard Campbell

Transportation Referendum: Lessons Learned from the Front Line

Speaker: Carl Guardino, Silicon Valley Leadership Group
January 19, 7–9 pm PST
Room 1400, SFU Harbour Centre, 515 W. Hastings St., Vancouver
Admission is free, but reservations are required. ReserveThis lecture will be live webcast. Reservations not required for webcast.

A healthy and competitive economy relies on efficient transportation. In Metro Vancouver, we are increasingly facing some of the worst traffic congestion in Canada. The region’s mayors have developed a Transportation and Transit Plan to cut congestion; keep people, jobs and our economy moving, and accommodate a million more people expected here by 2040.

This spring, Metro Vancouver voters will have a say on these proposed transportation and transit improvements through a referendum—the first of its kind in Canada.

Carl Guardino is widely lauded as one of the most influential forces on transportation policy and funding in the San Francisco and Silicon Valley area, where such ballot measures are routine and have successfully funded major transportation improvements.

Carl will share lessons learned from a region that has been recognized for its progress and innovation, and how this experience might help engage and inform Metro Vancouver residents as we weigh the important decision before us. Details/Registration




Yesterday Christians celebrated the feast of “epiphany.” The day primarily commemorates the visit of the Three Magi to the baby Jesus, revealing his Christ nature to the world. Catholics traditionally take their Christmas tree down the day after Epiphany. In honour of this feast, I thought I’d post something from another very wise man. In this age of religious radicalization, Eknath Easwaran reminds us how all of us need to have a higher purpose in life.

There comes a time in the growth of civilizations, as with individuals, when the life-and-death questions of material existence have been answered, yet the soul still thirsts and physical challenges cease to satisfy. Then we stand at a crossroads, for without meaningful aspiration, the human being turns destructive. Like a snake that must shed its skin to grow, our industrial civilization must shed its material outlook or strangle in outgrown ideals whose constructive potential has been spent. – Eknath Easwaran, Thought for the Day

Cooling the Jets



I was working on my thesis all day. What kept me going was the thought of sinking into the hot tub at the Aquatic Centre late afternoon and getting a good shoulder massage with the powerful jets. But when I got there, the hot tub was semi-disabled. There was a “substantial leak” in the pipes, said the sign, which the jets might aggravate. Disappointing, but I still enjoyed the soak in a tub of hot water. As I sat there, I was reminded of the time my brother was debating whether or not to buy a hot tub for his deck. It was an expensive purchase, but of course there was a deal. I had recently given him a copy of Eknath Easwaran’s Words to Live By. The morning he had to make his decision, he opened the book and read the entry below. I figured he would cool his jets on the hot tub. I was wrong. He bought it. In honor of his birthday, I repost it here.

How sweet it is to love, and to be dissolved, and as it were to bathe myself in thy love.
– Thomas a Kempis

In these times, a common prescription for a day packed with troubles is to go jump in your hot tub. Relaxation starts immediately; for a time, at least, the body is at peace.

Now imagine a hot tub for the mind. That is what meditation is; it can bathe your mind in peace. This requires a lot of practice, but when you have learned to jump in the hot tub of meditation at the end of a day, instead of rehashing problems with your co-workers or downing a double martini, you can close your eyes, start in with an inspirational passage, and let the accumulated tensions of the day dissolve. – Eknath Easwaran, Thought for the Day