dal niente

Month: January, 2007

QCF, QCF + any punch

If only it were as easy in video games to just throw energy out of your body.



The being, as I’ve come to understand it, is sorta definiable in terms of three entities.  Mind, body, and spirit.  They’re all really connected, so it doesn’t feel entirely correct for me to make a distinction between them, but they are distinct, and they do interact in particular ways.


The Mind is intellectual.  It governs other things. You use your mind to tell your body to lift this arm and pick up that cup of milk.  You use your mind to understand that 2 + 2 = 4.

The Body is the physical self, that being averything from your blood to your bones, everything about you which exists materially and occupies space in time, regardless of activity.

The Spirit is the emotional– the drive, the willpower, the feelings like happiness, joy, sadness, anger.


All three of these things have separate domains of expertise, but you’ll note that they interact with eachother through a series of feedback loops that multiply the consequences of situations.

Every now and then, one of these three things comes ot the foreground, and the other two sort of follow along, dragged into a situation because of strong foregrounding.  Say you’re running to a restauarant in winter for your best friend’s birthday party, then you slip on a gutter and break your elbow.  The body’s concerns become the focus of the trinity.  Because the pain is very loud. It is VERY loud.  Your Mind is probably confused– it goes into the furthest reach of the background, because your Body has taken over and is curled up, clutching the injured joint.  Your Spirit is getting the feedback from your body, and that joy that you had a few moments ago is now replaced with fear. Your spirit doesn’t understand what happen, it’s not like the Mind– it just knows that the trinity has been hurt, and as such, it is afraid.  The Spirit is afraid, so the Body curls up more.  The Mind is asbsent, thrown in back.


Say you’ve just been dumped by someone you really, really loved.  The Spirit feels loss, it’s an emotional void.  The Body as a result of the lack of spiritual drive lack apetite, or goes the other way and has too much apetite– the depression, which affects the spirit, it triggers the Body and the Mind to come forward to deffend their fallen comrade.  The Body tries to fill the spiritual void by doing things– eating more or less, sleeping more or less.  The Mind tries to rationalize, finding reasons why it should /shouldn’t have worked.  Feedback.  The Body does it’s thing and the results of that feed back to the spirit– and the initial force of the reaction to the situation is mutated.  In this way, for example, you get things like people saying they want to ‘hit something’– that’s the initial sadness, perhaps rationalized by the mind, and the body thinks it can release that energy through violence. 


The means by which you connect with the world change depending on how long you allow yourself to soak in a situation.


When you look at people, I think what will characterize them is the order and the actions of their internal trinitys.




A person is sort of like a closed system.  It has it’s own level of balance between the three. When something on the outside presses on a person, part of that force is absorbed as raw materials for the person to grow.  But the rest of it, it has to be returned to the external system.


So say you’re in a great situation. You’re surrounded by friends, you’re having the time of your life– all that positive energy is coming in at you. But you can’t contain it.  And that’s why you have fun with them.  You end up joining the party, you are shouting with all your spirit, your body is going with the beat, your Mind, well, your Mind appreciates what’s going on.  If you sit in the room where all that positive energy is hitting you but you don’t let it pass through you, if you just sit there and sulk, you feel bad.  You feel something is wrong.


Conversely, when you’re in a bad situation, and all this negative energy is bombarding you, you need process it somehow.  It cannot be simply internalized– there is only so much of it that you need to grow.  You have to get rid of the excess, otherwise, it will wreck your hardware.



Right now, I feel that in the past few weeks, I haven’t been dealing very well with my energy transfers. When energy comes in to you, it’s the Mind who is the gatekeeper– that’s the special role of it. It can convert experiences around you into strength.  But when the mind gets tired, or when the Spirit and Body start really protesting, even rationalization isn’t enough to keep strong emotion and physical reactions in check.  And if the Mind knows anything, it’s that the functioning of the person is a harmony between the three– and so it has to give in, and I don’t mean by default– i mean that the Mind must give in to pure Spirit and Body at times when the balance becomes that tipped.  The Mind can only take care of so much energy on it’s own– the other two need to be allowed to help.


The way I feel right now, it’s as if I’ve got all this… density.  I’ve taken in too much.  I need to get it out of me somehow.  The meter is full. I need some way to throw it out of me.  And yet, that would just be a temporary solution– because even if I work out all this energy, it will happen again. It always happens again. I’ve opened myself up to the world and the consequence is that I cannot close myself anymore– there is always so much energy around me, and I just soak it up like a sponge. I can’t just keep throwing it out. I need to find some way to let it pass through me, to get rid of the resistance that’s causing the overheating.




… sparring with the founder of Aikido, Ueshiba, was said to be like wrestling with an empty jacket. There was no ego in his movements, there was no agression, and on the flipside, there was no pacifism.  He simply was what he was. Those who sparred with him said it felt like they were sparring with themselves, as if Ueshiba, when he wanted to, wasn’t even there.

And this is what I feel like.  All this energy.  All this inside me, but I am wrestling with an empty jacket that provides me with no satisfaction. This is my life.  Certain problems, certain great problems, they are like large sparring partners who are strong and bigger than me– but that never bothers me.  Those with confidence ? Those with history?  They do not scare me, and in fact, to engage with these people is the joy of my life.  My defeats are but setting the stages for my victory.

But that is only when i can find an opposition.  If i can target something, someone.


At the end of the day, I find that I fight with myself.  Because the hardest fight is actually the simplest one– the one where I wrestle with my own self. Where it feels like no matter what I do, this sort of opponent is as an empty jacket. It frustrates me to no end, it brings me to rage at times, rage to the point where I cannot move for fear of just doing something wrong. Only my Mind keeps my Body and Spirit in check at times, those latter two want to lash out and release that energy.  The mind tries to internalize it, or to diffuse it.


Intellectually, I am very tired right now.

Daddy’s gotta go KICK SOME ASS.

It’s supposed to be fun, isn’t it?

Anyway. This thursday, my team is trucking out to Marianopolis to play against the Hua Xia team.  Although technically I can’t blame them for what’s gone on (their club’s actions led directly or indirectly, but in either case inevitably, to the banning of one of my team’s primary players, Jing, and also, they’re using one of my team’s women, Jenny, as well as having stolen who would have been one of my primary subs, Jim) I don’t like them for it.

I’ve always been willing to give people the benefit of the doubt. Yes, that sounds odd for me because I’m a very judgemental person.  But there’s two of me in here, the ‘regular me’ who is the one who all my friends know, that’s the one who says shit about people all the time and I don’t care.  And then there’s me as the Captain of one of the RsM teams, or as the founder of RsM, who has to be politically correct.  The politically correct guy doesn’t have the luxury of badmouthing other people, because there’s always a day later with consequences not just for me, but for the people associated with me.

Anyway, here’s the letter, for those of you in RsM who want to know:

Jinryu wrote:

Hi DH,

I was just rallying up my team to play our Division 4 game between RsM B
and Hua Xia (division 4) and one of my players, Jing Zhang, told me
something. He tells me that your Division 2 team was missing players
several times, and he agreed to help you guys out. However, he ended up
playing 4 games for you and after the 4th game, Hua Xia informed him
that he could no longer play for RsM division 4. Now, I realize that
this is the rule as stated in the LBA. I do not prevent my players from
subbing for other teams, I think they are allowed to do as they wish.
But I am rather concerned because Jing Zhang wanted to do you guys a
favor by subbing for your teams, and suddenly he is informed after the
4th game that he is now stuck. I am concerned that by using one of our
players, it should have been your division 2’s job to at least inform
him of this rule. Now that Jing has been blocked from my division
team, he is caught in an awkward position.

This is the situation as far as I see it. I was wondering if you had
any comments on this?

Racketsports Montreal

Hi [Jinryu]:
  I am sorry about what
happened. I understand what you said and your feeling, but no
body should be blamed for this. If you have a look at our division 3
team list on LBA website, you would find that Jin Zhang has been a
registered player in our team since LBA started. He is not only a
member at our club but also his partner, Wei Geng, is a major player in
our division 3 team. That is why Jin Zhang plays for us. What made this
happen is LBA schedule: we had more games available for him to play
before you had. I would not complain any thing to you if he had played
enough games for your club and sticks to your team. 
Take care,

Now, if you look at the letter in itself, sure, he does have a point. I guess it is my job as a Captain to ensure that my players know rules, even the little obscure ones like the 4 game locking rule.  But why did it come to this?  Jing’s played for RsM for over a year now. Questions I’m asking myself– did Jing actually sign up to be on the HX LBA team?

… it’s his choice either way. But why did it come to this? Why do I have to deal with this? Wasn’t it all supposed to be for fun?  Since when did badminton turn out to be a merc pool?

When I hurt my ankle yesterday, I wasn’t even thinking “Fuck! My ankle!” I was thinking “Fuck! I need this for thursday!” …. we’re playing against Hua Xia this thursday.  I’d be lying if I said that I didn’t want to win.  I hope that turns out well for us.

My 14th Haven: After the Forest (revised version)

It was when they stepped out into the cool night air that Trist felt the almost claustrophobic uneasiness lift.  He was at once confronted with the sound of crickets– the hundreds and thousands of crickets.  And then there was also the ding of windchimes and the light creak of streetlights on their chains in the mild breeze– it felt as if suddenly, the world once again felt thick and real in the air.  There was life in the air. The fog that he still saw in his memories had been lifted out of his eyes and ears, he felt that he was able to stand taller and breathe easier. 

He turned back to look at the building in which his friends lay, still sleeping.  It was made entirely out of stone. There were no windows.  For a clinic, it looked much more like a prison– and even so, it looked more like a tomb than a prison.  Whoever had built it had done so with the intention of being heartless.

“They say that this forest is cursed,” said the ranger, as he started off on the path to the town center.  “You’re all quite lucky, I’d say.”

Trist looked to him, surprised.

“Really?” It wasn’t the curse that was surprising, but rather that it was specifically the ranger who had mentioned it.  He seemed like the sort who would put little stock in magic.

“Yes.  Our town hasn’t had visitors in almost a generation now.  You’ll have to excuse them if they’re not warm towards outsiders.”

“Are you an outsider too?”

The ranger ignored his question.

“There’s a local tale that the wolves sometimes take human form to infiltrate the village.  To steal children and all that.  Just don’t start howling in the moonlight, and the siclkles should stay with the rice.”

The ranger moved about stiffly, a sharp contrast to the quickfooted grace he had demonstrated in the forest earlier. He seemed uneasy.  There was no doubt that he was doing his very best to be polite and hospitable, but Trist began to notice that the man tensed whenever they came within sight of other townspeople.  It wasn’t the fact that Trist was an outsider that bothered the ranger, he realized– it was the disaprooving eyes of the townspeople.

The ranger’s cloak was drawn around to one side, so that his sword scabbard was clearly visible at his hip.  Trist was sure this display was no accident.

“Those… wolves.  What happens? Usually?” asked Trist.

“Some sort of spirit– their howling causes a great fear, and those who are exposed too long become mad.  It looks like I got to you all in time. Your friends don’t seem to be having the nightmares or anything, so…”

“How can you tell?”

The ranger looked at him grimly, but did not stop walking.  “There are nightmares that you wake up afraid from, where a cold sweat and a lost night’s sleep are the worst of it.  Those are the nightmares of the lucky, the lucky normal kind. But then there are the nightmares of those who have–” his voice trailed off, his gaze wandering to the side as if glancing at some hazy memory.  “I’d know if they were having the nightmares.  *Everyone* in the villiage would know.  It’s not something that we’d be able to keep quiet.  And they’re lucky in that sense– if they were having the nightmares, then then even getting them out of the forest wouldn’t have made a difference.”

There was something that the ranger was avoiding, but given that he was his only ally at the moment, Trist didn’t press the topic.

It had been hours that he’d been sitting there, and she had not stirred a bit.

He very much wanted to call her names.  To goad at her, like he usually did.  Yes, his first instinct was to coerce her back to conciousness.

But he was afraid that if he were to open his mouth, he might start screaming, and never stop.

Camus still felt the shivers.  He had to focus his gaze on her, concentrating his thoughts only on her and everything that he admired about her.  It was hard work– it was something he wouldn’t normally allow himself to do.  But he had to do something to keep the dark thoughts at bay, for every time he lingered on one it felt suddenly as if he was staring into the black hotness of a gaping maw.

Camus had never really relied on anyone but himself.  Even when he was back in his own villiage, with his father as the Keeper, he had rebelled constantly in his household if only to proove his own independance.  To set himself apart.

Ironically, it was that independance that the forest made him fear so much.  When the howl had rung in his ears, he felt his spine freeze for a moment.  He was absolutely paralyzed.  And with the fog, he could see nothing more than a few feet in front of him.  He couldn’t hear anything.  The leaves had not rustled a peep, and all the crickets that were so abundant in the region were as if holding their legs crossed eerily at once.  He was alone, holding his breath.

When the howl had hit him a second time, it had brought Camus to his knees.  Not because it terrified him and pressed him to bow to the force, but because he suddenly felt voided and empty– he curled up, as if to keep what little soul he could find from flying away from his belly.  He felt all things at once.  He felt a sudden hatred for Trist, the leader of their group.  A memory of resentment for his father.  A disgust at his days training in the militia.  A loathing of mankind as a whole.  And most of all, he hated Pep.

As he sat by Pep’s bedside, just watching the rise and fall of her chest as she took long, silent breaths, those feelings were still there– the hopelessness and isolation would always be with him.  It’s what he had wanted, with his independance after all.  He’d wanted *realism*. He’d escaped his father’s house, he’d escaped the militia, he’d escaped Mulciber.  If his shadow weren’t attached, he might have lost that too. 

There were some things that he could not escape though.  Those emotions, those damning doubts and fears.

Sitting there beside her, he felt oddly calm.  He stared, still not daring to say a word.  She had been in the forest too, and with her hearing being better than his, the howl must’ve affected her worse.  How calmly she looked when fighting her nightmares!

Pep had spent her life fighting, and Camus had never understood it.  But he’d been envious– because she always seemed to have a direction, she knew who and where she was at all times.

He just sat there and stared upon her, realizing that for all the nightmares, he needed her.  He’d never admit it to her.  He’d never give her any hint.  But he needed her.  She was the only reason why he had woken up.

When she woke up, they’d fight as usual, and they’d go on with Trist on their quest.  But until she did wake up, he took the time allow himself to love her.

He stopped, suddenly feeling a twisting in his gut.

When he felt that thought cross his mind, he suddenly felt a smile force itself upon his lips, and he felt himself go blind with tears.  So that was it!  He loved her!  It was ridiculous!

His lips parted and it wasn’t to let out a scream or his soul, it was to laugh, and laugh, and laugh.

And without warning, Pep stirred, and rolled to one side.

“Damn it all, I’m trying to sleep,” she muttered, almost reflexively.  Her back was turned to him and she was facing the wall.  “Is it already morning?”

Camus felt as if someone had suddenly put his soul in a vice grip.  She didn’t even realize that she had come so close to dying!

He managed to choke out: “N-no.  It’s still late.”

She didn’t respond, and her calm, breathing resumed.  Camus had his hands over his nose and mouth, choking back his laughter, suddenly *afraid* he might wake her.

When he managed to get a good solid breath, he stood up, not being able to sit, and went outside to take a walk.

He would have to find some way to get rid of the smile before she woke up.  But it was a long time until morning.  Maybe he could let it go till then.

They just keep going and going and going

I’m not sure if it’s age or something else, or if I’ve actually gotten
my willpower so high up there that my body can’t keep up, but i think
I’m arriving at a point in my life where that old addage “listen to
your body” is really ringing true.

I guess when I was younger, it was easy.  First of all, all my
joints were still in good condition.  Not as many accumulated
injuries.  And to top it all off, back then there were things that
I did which turned out to be a lot of fun.  Fun was always the
driving factor.

And when you’re having fun, you don’t have to be so disciplined
anymore. I mean, I could go sparring, I could play some volleyball, I
could play some hackey sack (yes, I actually remember that now) and
those were all ‘fun’ things.  MAC would eventually take up all my
time and that would be the first time when I’d be disciplined about
trying to align my brain and my body to the same cause though. 
And that too would be one of the situations, like now, where I need to
listen to my body.

I’m finding that I need to listen to my body now because I’m being more
rigorous about my expectations of myself.  In that sense, it’s not
enough to just take out a hackey sack on the lunch break and start
kicking it around. I want to get better at things.  Badminton is
one of them.  But there are other things too– I want to become a
stronger person.

… and you know, sleep is part of the equation.

It’s funny how I voluntarily pushed sleep off. I’m not sure why– maybe
it was a cycle of depression or something like that, a down wave on the
frequency graph.  But sleep, i’m sure, made a huge difference.

This morning I woke up aftter a solid 8 hours of sleep– that’s the
most sleep I’ve had in one string in perhaps 2 weeks. And feel like a
million bucks.

Sleep is a funny thing like that because usually I think of it as
something to do– as in, I get to chose it.  But in reality, the
reverse is also true– it gets to chose me.  In a sense, what I
mean is that when I don’t have enough sleep, I tend to lose control of
myself.  The machinery starts to break down.  I have mood
swings.  I daresay it’s a few sympthoms of PMS.  And while
the ride is interesting, and does make for some interesting writing, I
recognize now, officially, today, that sleep deprivation is a dangerous
thing. It really is like a drug.  It’s just like alcohol, without
the throwing up.

I feel a lot better today.  And why is that?  All those
things that were on my mind for the past few days, they don’t seem to
bother me as much anymore, even though those situations and those
things haven’t changed.  SO what is it?

I look back at the posts I wrote during the last two weeks, and i
definately recognize the person saying those things.  That is
still all me. ANd yet here I am simultaneously, feeling very different
about things.  Does 8 hours really make that much of a
difference?  Is a single person really capable of such variance?

Anyway.  Suffice it to say, it’s monday, and as all mondays it’s another begining.

Your mission

… should you chose to accept it, is to take pictures of me. ME. Yes me.  The guy who usually has the camera, who consequently as the result of being on one end of the lens never ends up in any pictures!

Hello tomorrow, it’s 12:43

Thoughts (i’m still seriously lacking in sleep so some of this might not be in coherent engrish)

  • It is midnight-30.  That’s what I say instead of 12:30 AM .  And I never say 12AM or 12PM, i say noon or midnight.
  • I might be the kind of person who would sleep completely naked, if it weren’t for the fear that one day i kick off the sheets and get discovered by someone else in my house. that might be a tad awkward. As it stands, I sleep in my boxers, whether it’s summer or winter.
  • I’ve made the conscious effort to NOT close the washroom door whenever I take a shower or a dump if there’s nobody in the house but me. I mean, what’s the point right? ALl part of my quest to fight the habits of complacency!  Power to the conscious mind! Or… something.
  • I find Chili’s blog annoying.  But not because it’s annoying because of how he says stuff. but rather, because he’s right, and his blog is a constant reminder of how stupid people are sometimes. And I don’t really like stupid people, especially not at 1am– so chili’s blog is annoying to me because it reminds me that the world is full of people I don’t like.
  • I have a cellphone that basically runs my life.  All the pictures i take (which you can see if you’re on facebook) are done with my phone.  My phone also keeps all my appointments.  It has all my phone numbers, addresses and email contacts.  I use it for something like 30 text messages per day on average.  I use it for my MP3 player.  I use it for my flashlight.  I use it as a mirror.  I play games on it.  If i lost my cellphone, i wouldn’t just lose my cellphone– i would lose a part of my life. It is sad, but true.
  • Facebook’s networking capabilities are disgusting. And like many disgusting things, it is also impressive. It’s connecting me with people i had totally forgotten existed.
  • …. http://www.DrMcNinja.com , because I said to check it out so just DO IT.
  • I am broke and broken. NO cash, NO energy in mind or body. Time for bed… at least that’s free.

I am not impressed

My RsM Division 4 team has a game against Hua Xia this thursday.

Except at the moment, only half my team is ready….

because one my primary male players has been declared banned from playing on my team due to a technicality which HX used to steal him onto their team, and because my primary male sub was also snatched by Hua Xia.

… you know what, i don’t even feel like writing about this.  I’ll finish this post later.

Dear Flynt,

I wonder about the contradictions within a person. I mean, contradictions are apparent– and usually, when I contradict myself, that’s usually when problems arise for me. But maybe paradox is part of the package?

I recognize that harmony within the self is peace– but also, if it weren’t for contradiction, nothing would come new to the system. Bodies become stronger when some illness is introduced which upsets the balance, and then it internalizes the memories of the struggle to adjust, to reestablish that homeostasis.

I’ve been getting more… emotional, shall we say, lately. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’m a tough person to get into I guess, and part of my mistakes in my last relationship might’ve been that there was more to me that I couldn’t let out.

I don’t know I’m writing to you out of the blue like this. Maybe it’s because this is the first year where I decided not to leave flowers. Why? I don’t know. I’d like to say it was moving on, but what does that mean? Does anyone really move on?

… I don’t blame you. I can’t, and I won’t. But there are times that I think that things would have been different, if only– and I wish. I wish, and damn, wishing is such a terrible thing. I wish that you had been around longer to grow up with me. It’s been years now, and all I have to go on are memories, a profile that I think, “what would Flynt do?” but how do I know?

I ended up working in a hospital, here I am. I don’t know if you had any idea back then what you were getting yourself into, but– if I might guess– you might’ve enjoyed it. Back then, I never would have seen myself here. I don’t mean this kind of job. I mean– this kind of experience– this kind of responsability. I don’t know if this was the kind of thing you wanted to do, but if it was, you really were ahead of the game, weren’t you?

… something that bothers me is that it feels as if I should be finding this kind of… answer… inside of me. I should probably cut myself some slack and recognize that virtue comes from me, but instead, I manifest it in you. You, who I no longer know, you’ve come to represent everything good about life. And that’s not fair– because that’s like a misquote, a misinterpretation. Not that you couldn’t have been all that. But, in the reality of time, you were you, and who I have built you up to being in my head probably isn’t who you are. The story just stopped, at some point, and that was that. There were no sequels. You were the only author of that, and yet, here I am, writing up more, pretending to have a perfect grasp on your intentions, some sort of knowing of what you would have been like had your fate been further off.

I haven’t been sleeping much lately, there’s just been so much to do. No, actually, that’s a lie. There’s always time, I just probably don’t spend it all that wisely. I spend my restless nights overthinking things that I have little effect on. I’m searching for the meaning of life, for solutions to problems I am only begining to figure out how to ask questions about, i’m just biting off more than I can chew.

I think the sleep deprivation is getting to me. I think I’m getting addicted to it, and I mean, in the bad sort of way. It’s the poor man’s alcohol, to numb the brain, and yet, to break down the barriers of concious formality and standards. When I’m sleep deprived, i get to see parts of me that I don’t normally let out. They surprise even me.

I look around me and I see all this… suffering. Every smile laced with some sadness. This is the way of things, this, relativity i guess you could call it: the ones who have the best smiles also cry the most.

What do I want from the world? That we all be buddhist? That we all just start taking everything with so much abstraction that nobody is ever harmed again?

Right now it feels as if i’m walking forward, just for the sake of it, without knowing where I’m going. It feels good to be moving, but at the same time, it feels like i could go faster if only I could decide where.

It’s 10:30, I’m in one of my offices at work. It’s been another one of those days. It is being another one of those days. I deal with it, and sometimes, I genuinely feel stronger for everything that I’ve learned at this job. Sometimes though, I feel like a kid. I feel small. I don’t know what to do. I don’t know what it is that I’m feeling. It feels like i’ve seen too much.

This job… it isn’t killing me. But it is. But it’s not the job. It’s this… world. The way things happen.

It’s funny like that because I’d like to talk to someone about things like this to people– about life and death– but the truth is that most people I know wouldn’t understand. And the other thing is– I wouldn’t want them to understand. This kind of knowing, it’s like a radioactive spider bite. It sounds, prima facie, like a great idea to be able to really go through a city, from that different viewpoint– but on the other hand, there’s a whole bunch of other responsabilities, and it’s not as if you can refuse them once you have them.

That’s what it feels like– that it’s like i’m in a different demographic or something, not better or worse, but shared only by the dying elderly and hospital staffers who have closed themselves to the world on this subject.

I can’t beleive that you wanted to work in a place like this.

I mean, I can beleive it. That’s the kind of person you were.

But still… did you have any idea? That it would be like this?

The stupid thing is that once you’re in, it isn’t even a choice. You know things. You know things that you can’t unknow. I have seen people pass away in good and bad– the best of them leave you feeling inspired. The worst of them pass, leaving you afraid.

… I’ve decided that I’m going to take that supplementary job working at the ‘burnout box’, the job where I’ve got a ‘counselling’ position, i guess you could call it. I’ll see where that goes. I’m not sure it will be useful to me, but well– since i’m on this road, I guess we might as well walk it the full way.

… it feels like so long ago, really. And … it was. Who am I kidding?

People depend on me. I think I might actually hate that. Am I a dependable guy? Sure, I guess you might say that, in certain contexts. But what about me? Who do I get to depend on? Who is MY pillar?

It’s 10:40 am. This is the sleep deprivation talking. But I’m only here for another 4 hours. Perhaps the meaning of life will strike me by then.

If it doesn’t, well.

It’s funny how when we have no idea what to do in the present, we look to the past. Then the past becomes glorified as this be all had all sorta scenario, when things were better and simpler. I’ve come to conclude that the only reason why the past could be better is because of ignorance. We’re always learning things, you see, so the past tends to be a time when things were less complicated. You look at a history book or even a diary, and when you read it in the present, you know more, so the situations that were simpler back then just are that much more complicated now. And that’s what life is, in a certain sense– a progression of gradual complication, a collection of stories which aren’t line up in series in your thought process but rather, they run in parallel to the current– they all drain that feed all at once. Things get more ‘interesting’ as time flies.

As I sit here in the basement, I have this longing to feel neither strong or weak. I’d like things to be simpler.

I’m tired of trying to give people who wrong me the benefit of the doubt. I want it to be like when I was younger, when I was quicker to anger. When my spontaneity wasn’t bogged down by reason.

I wish, and this wish is my constant weakness, that you were here, so we could talk and you could distract me from thinking as you used to do. But maybe I’m just imagining you to be all this, all this who you aren’t, all this who is what I’ve put together as an image of you perhaps far from the truth, just to cope with the way things are.

We contradict ourselves all the time. Sometimes I feel really strong. Sometimes I feel really weak. So which is it? Can I be one or the other? And if I’m both… how is anyone anything if they’re everything at once?


Anyway, just random thoughts. It seems that from when I started this, I felt a certain way, and now that I conclude, I feel different– better, somehow, at having written it down.

I hope you’re doing well– take care.

“Have only Good Days

… and Better Ones”, said Lance Armstrong.

It’d been a long time since I’d worn a tie. Looking back, I appreciated the times back in high school band where it was part of a uniform– then I could hide the fact that I actually liked wearing the things and just blend in with the crowd. I look at this fact now and think it ironic– while I detest most of the guys wearing suits that I see downtown just because of what that stands for, the hipocrisy of it is that every time I put on a tie, I feel like it’s for a reason. And it’s not to keep up with the guy in the next cubicle who’s wearing a beach and palm trees on cheap silk. Nah. It’s to feel like I’m part of something better. It’s to feel some sort of connection.

To be frank, I don’t have many shirts that take ties. So I don’t wear them often. I also hate the formality for the most part, but then again, when I wear one it’s because the formality is part of the occasion.

As I looked in the mirror, my mind wandered to the dozen or so times my mom had told me “What kind of man doesn’t know how to do a tie?” I was maybe 15 at the time. The white collars of my school shirt were turned up, my chin up as she fiddled with the grey and burgandy striped standard issue for the band. The buttons on my band blazer were held on with safety pins.

Ten years down the line, look at me now– Yes mom, thanks. I know how to do my own tie.

Now, why was I wearing a tie? It’s just for work, actually. It’s going to be another unordinary day, just like any ordinary day.

… “Thank you, [Jinryu],” says the head honcho. “We’ll certainly take your recommendations into consideration. Your report has been most informative.”

I nod and give ‘that grimace’, the one that says “sure”.

“If you don’t mind, [Director], it’s 6pm,” I point out.

“Oh, right!”

The director and the other staffmen rise from their seats and start heading for the doors.

“What happens at 6pm?” whispers the guy I’m training.

“We’re going to a wake.”

…. Black clothing is a funny thing like that. It sort of reminds me of black and white photography, the way that it’s compared to color film. It’s all about contrasts. It reduces the amount of colors coming into your eyes, so instead,when you look at a person, you tend to pay more attention to particular things that stand out in contrast to the black that you see everywhere else. Their hands. Their facial expressions.

We’re in the patient’s room.

There’s no priest. He doesn’t beleive in that kind of thing.

Family and friends all give their speeches. Even if there’s a dozen people who speak, including me, the whole thing only takes a bit under an hour.

His wife speaks last. Hers is also the longest. Hers, on it’s own lasts twenty minutes.

“… and in conclusion, [Bob], I love you. There were times that I didn’t know it, because it felt so natural that I just forgot, but during those times you reminded me why, every day. Every day was a bit more than the last. We all love you, [Bob]. Sleep well.”

The funny thing about the whole process is that Bob is right there, lying in bed. He’s not dead. No, literally: He’s not dead. He saw that movie “The Weatherman” a while back and wanted to do that– to have his whole process done while he was still alive. And so there we were. [Bob]. His family. His friends. Me and my black tie.

“Wait wait! Don’t I get to speak?” he says, when the awkward blanket of silence falls on the room. “I’d like to make a bet with you guys. Italia wins the next world cup. 40$ says it’s Italia. Come on. You know I’m good for it!”

In the corner of the room, amid a wreath of flowers, is a soccer trophy from the junior team that he coached, with a card signed by all those kids.

His wife starts to make sounds, but she can’t seem to decide whether she’s laughing or crying.

… days come, days go. People are born and people die, every day, without fail.

As I write this, saturday morning, I’m at work again. I missed my bus this morning. That sucked, because it cost me 10$ to take the taxi to the metro. When you consider how much debt I’m in, yes, 10$ for me is a big deal. As I sat on the mass transit among perhaps a dozen other commuters, one or two per car, I kept thinking to myself how much I’d like to be annoyed. But you know what? I didn’t get the feeling. So what’s 10$ in the grand scheme of things, what’s 10$ that I couldn’t avoid spending anyway.

With a wide enough angle, certain things become less important. And while the focus is lost, a bit of detail glazed over, sometimes that wider angle is what you need to place yourself in the big picture. It’s not meant to make me feel insignificant that I zoom out– it’s to appreciate the composition, to see how magically it all comes together somehow.

…Good morning everyone!


For 60 years, she was on the cutting edge of science. She taught medicine in France and China, directed two Montreal hospitals and published 100 papers — all after fleeing the Nazis in Germany

Special to The Globe and Mail

TORONTO — In the early 1930s, two women came in contact in Leipzig, Germany. One was a young medical student, the other a tuberculosis patient whose eyes were burning hot.

“I do not want to die, I cannot die, I have a child,” the woman cried. But the student knew there was no hope. Without thinking of the personal risk, she mixed the patient’s sputum with her own tears and preserved them between two slides.

“I knew then, without a doubt, that I would never forget her, that my work as a physician would be in the laboratory, and that one day I would work in tuberculosis,” Dr. Edith Mankiewicz was to write later in her unpublished French-language memoirs.

Her distinguished career more than fulfilled that vow. For nearly six decades until her retirement in 1991, Dr. Mankiewicz was on the cutting edge of microbiology, specializing in pulmonary diseases. She taught medicine and conducted research in France, China and Canada, directed laboratories at two Montreal hospitals and published more than 100 scientific papers. Her works brought advances in tuberculosis prevention and treatment during her lifetime and continue to inspire international medical research.

Away from the microscope, her life story is one of danger, tragedy, heroism and courage. Considered Jewish by the Nazi authorities, she fled to France and then to Shanghai, only to be exposed to bombings and privations caused by the Japanese. She was twice hospitalized with tuberculosis contracted in the laboratory. And she saw her son, Quebec film director Francis Mankiewicz, die when he was 49.

Yet, throughout it all, she retained a passion for research, enthusiasm for life, and her sense of humour. Dr. Gerald Berry, her boss for a period when she directed the microbiology laboratory at Lakeshore General Hospital on Montreal’s West Island, recalls “a wiry little customer” who “smoked like a chimney” and had shortness of breath, but worked vigorously. Her research into Bacille Calmette-Guérin vaccine was directly applied to TB prevention in Europe, he says.

On the other hand, little use was made of her work on bacteriophages when it was first published, says Dr. Hans-Wolfgang Ackermann of Laval University. But with today’s overuse of antibiotics, it is being resurrected in the search for an alternate way to fight bacterial infections. Prof. Andre Gorski, director of the Institute of Immunology and Experimental Therapy in Wroclaw, Poland, says the impetus for his current research came from a paper published by Dr. Mankiewicz and M. Liivak in the journal Nature in the 1960s.

The daughter of Maximilien Meyer, a doctor, and Gertrud Kaul, a nurse, it seemed natural that young Edith and her older sister, Margaret, would study medicine. Edith graduated in 1933, the same year she married Harald (Rene) Mankiewicz, at that time the youngest judge in Germany. Two months later, the couple fled to France because of threats resulting from the judge’s sentencing of Nazi supporters.

She and her husband both redid their studies in France, with Edith receiving her second medical degree from the University of Lyon. From 1939 to 1941, she served as physician-in-chief at the Children’s Hospital in Tulins. She gave birth to a daughter, Jacqueline, in 1940. But the German occupation of France brought new danger.

In her memoirs, Dr. Mankiewicz wrote that one day, as Nazi troops marched by, some children shouted: “The Boches are coming,” using a common French pejorative for Germans. “They only wanted to give a warning, but the soldiers started to shoot. I cannot wipe out of my mind the image of these little bodies, mutilated, this slaughter of innocent children.”

Finding themselves suddenly blacklisted in France, the couple moved to a seemingly safe destination, the French concession in Shanghai. From 1941 to 1945, Dr. Mankiewicz worked there as professor of microbiology at Aurore University. She was also named “interim director” at the city’s Pasteur Institute. It was a time of urgency and hard work. According to Dr. Véronique Porret, whose mother and grandmother were in Shanghai at the time, Dr. Mankiewicz set up a gynecology service for girls raped by Japanese soldiers; established an adoption service for abandoned children; and created a private medical laboratory to provide work for Jewish physicians who were otherwise confined to a ghetto. Not only that, but in 1944 she gave birth to her son, Francis.

With the Second World War raging and Shanghai under Japanese occupation, daily life was disrupted by bombings, blackouts and shortages.

Jacqueline Mankiewicz Smith, Dr. Mankiewicz’s daughter, recalls: “Once the sirens had stopped, it was Mother’s duty — as part of the medical corps — to go out and check the neighbourhood in order to alert the emergency personnel and firefighters as to the location of the most injured. A silent hero in this story was my father, who insisted on accompanying her on those dangerous missions.”

With the end of the war, the couple and their two children moved to Montreal, where Edith’s parents and her sister, Dr. Margaret Kunstler, had already taken up residence. In Canada, she took her medical training for the third time.

From 1947 to 1950, she worked as a research associate in microbiology at McGill University. Then misfortune struck again. She contracted TB and spent a year in a sanatorium (another bout was to interrupt her work a couple of years later).

Undiscouraged, Dr. Mankiewicz pressed on. From 1951 to 1976, she was director of laboratories at the Royal Edward Chest Hospital, later known as the Montreal Chest Hospital. In 1955, she made headlines for showing how yeast cells could dramatically reduce the time required for a positive diagnosis of tuberculosis. In other research, she identified mycobacterial-like germs inside cancer tissue.

Then, at an age when most people retire, she became director of the microbiology laboratory at Lakeshore General Hospital, a position she held for 15 years. She also lectured on microbiology at McGill from 1962 to 1979.

Over the years, her advice and support encouraged many young people. One who credits her with shaping his career is virologist Alain Bouillant: “She was always busy, but she always had a few minutes for a very warm welcome.”

Meanwhile, Dr. Mankiewicz’s husband served for many years as legal adviser to the International Civil Aviation Organization, and taught law at McGill and at the University of Montreal. He died in 1993.

Even retirement at 80 didn’t slow her down. She continued to advise students, translate scientific papers into English and to provide sanctuary in Canada for a Shanghai woman who had been jailed for her religious and political views. The woman went on to become an expert in public health.

The death of her son from cancer in 1993 was a severe blow. One of his movies, Les Bons Debarras (Good Riddance) won eight Genie awards in 1981. Another, Les Portes Tournantes (The Revolving Doors), drew 10 Genie nominations in 1989. Family relationships were a central theme in his films.

In her son’s memory, Dr. Mankiewicz set up the non-profit Circle for Children Foundation that was dedicated to helping children in foster care. Her daughter, Jacqueline Mankiewicz Smith, a child psychologist, is program director.

Even in her 90s, Dr. Mankiewicz continued to be engaged. She read and discussed philosophy and current events. “First thing in the morning,” says Ms. Mankiewicz Smith, “she’d have thought up some important philosophical question during the night and we would have to discuss it at breakfast.”

During the cliffhanger 2000 U.S. election, Dr. Mankiewicz was president of the retirement residence where she lived. At one point, George Bush and Al Gore were reportedly separated by 250 votes in Florida. “There are 380 people in my manoir,” Dr. Mankiewicz told her granddaughter, Dawn Smith. “If my manoir were over there, it’d be finished.”

Christal Smith, another granddaughter, says Dr. Mankiewicz survived war, sickness and loss by remembering the beautiful moments from her past. She was also stubborn and willing to fight for justice. Fifty years after the Nazis took her childhood home, Dr. Mankiewicz successfully sued the German government for reparations. France awarded her the Cross of Lorraine for her wartime work.

**Edith Marion Mankiewicz

(nee Meyer) was born in Leipzig, Germany, on May 16, 1910.

She died of heart failure in Montreal on Sept. 21, 2006. She was 96. She leaves a daughter,

Jacqueline Mankiewicz Smith, and five grandchildren, Christal Smith, Dawn Smith, Vivian Ngo, Martin Mankiewicz and Gabrielle Mankiewicz.