Archive for the 'Bio' Category

The Agony of Defeat

Ankle on Ice

I’m back-on-my-back.

A nasty little ankle sprain had been elevated and iced for the better-part of four days, with intervening trips to the doctor and physio and a regimen of careful range-of-motion enhancers, to speed recovery.  To goal was to be fit for last night’s doubles match in the Burnaby Open Tennis Tournament.  Let’s just say the effort came-up a little short.

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Let Them Eat Pie

Jane Roskam's Apple Pie Party

Jane Roskams, UBC neuroscientist and fellow Point Grey denizen, has a mighty apple tree in her backyard. Each year, it provides an abundant harvest — or rather, an over-abundant harvest. To mitigate the apple onslaught, to broaden the wealth, and to share the fun, Jane holds an annual Apple Pie Party. The 2011 event took place last night, and we were fortunate enough to wrangle an invitation.

The concept of the party is simple: help Jane use the damn apples. And one more thing: be prepared to be judged on your effort.

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My Semicentennial

Chocolate cake in honor of MBJ's 50th birthday

All day, birthday greetings have been pouring in from friends and family. Most sound a common theme: turning fifty is a significant right of passage. Many of the messages are tinged with dire humor, advising that “Fifty is a major birthday” and welcoming me to “the beginning of the end.” As often happens, my mother put it best: “I’m an awfully young woman to have a son who is fifty.”

The consensus seems to be that I am old.

But am I? I certainly don’t feel any older than I ever did. Perhaps part of it is my irreverent, adventurous attitude (which could be one of those keeps-me-youngish-despite-the-gray-in-my-hair things); but part of it must be the fact that my knees have been more-or-less shot since I was nineteen (so I have always been old and decrepit). Either way, I feel no different than I did at forty — or thirty or twenty, for that matter.

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Postcard to a Stranger

Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG) Fuse, i want to be alone (with you), Postcard to a Stranger

The Vancouver Art Gallery hosts periodic late-night parties they call “FUSE”. In addition to the ongoing fare of the current exhibitions, VAG brings in musicians, dancers and other performance artists; and there is usually an element of participatory art, as well. At the FUSE party around Halloween, for example, the guest-involvement piece had professional make-up artists from the Vancouver film industry creating gruesome wounds and fantastical face-paintings. At the most recent FUSE, entitled and themed “i want to be alone (with you)”, the project involved the writing and receiving of postcards to and from another guest, assigned at random.

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Care

Face painting at the Vancouver Art Gallery during a Fuse event, October 2009

While America ties itself in knots in a farcical debate whether it will make health care available to all its citizens, here in Canada I am enrolled in the provincial Medical Service Plan, which covers all my basic health needs: emergent, urgent, preventative, and elective care. It costs $48 per month. Paperwork? My doctor’s office simply swipes my Care Card when I arrive, hands it back to me, and we’re done. Ask a Canadian what a deductible or co-pay is; they’ll just look at you with a blank stare.

And lucky thing I’m covered. Just look at that gash on my forehead!

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Advances in Clinical Chemistry

Carl Wittwer Profiled in Clinical Chemistry

My second-most-favorite magazine of all time is Clinical Chemistry. Like my first-most-favorite magazine, I pretend to read it for the excellent articles, but mostly only look at the pictures.

If that’s not entirely true, it’s only because the images in Playboy (do they still publish Playboy?) are considerably more interesting than those in Clinical Chemistry, which tend to run toward crazy-shit-complicated graphs and conceptual layouts of brain-melting science. So, alas, I do struggle through the articles — which take me several hours for six to eight hard-won pages — with a Googleload of reference help.

No one will ever adjudge the literary merits of Clinical Chemistry to be on a par with Granta or the quality and usefulness of the science it contains to rival that of Cooks Illustrated. Still, the rag has its own nerdy charm.

Imagine my delight, then, when Clinical Chemistry finally published something that not only covers my favorite subject in all of science, but does so in an article I could read without feeling like a third-grader: a profile of Carl Wittwer.

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Remembering Julius Shulman

Julius Shulman, NY Times Photo

Julius Shulman, the preeminent photographer of American modernist architecture, died on Wednesday at his home in the Los Angeles hills at the age of 98. I was lucky enough to spend two days with him at that home – one he commissioned Rafael Soriano to design for him in 1947.

I met Julius quite by accident, and it was love at first sight.

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Filial Piety Awareness Day

mimiKaki Jacobs Tusler, Mother

Mother’s Day — that annual festival of last-minute teleflorism — is once again upon our sorry selves. It is not the worst Hallmark Holiday of the year, of course. That honor would go to Father’s Day, for which there is not even an accepted, go-to, eleventh-hour gift alternative. Still, it is a celebration we’d do well to drop from the calendar.

I’m sure there are a few mothers deserving of praise for their efforts, including (I grudgingly admit) the one pictured above. Possibly some fathers too, at least hypothetically. Still, I’ve been to too many confessional dinner parties with people claiming to be children of parents to believe that there are so many truly outstanding (or even passably competent) child-rearers as to justify a whole day in their collective honor. (And a prime spring weekend slot, to boot!)

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Ass as Canvas

jeans

My visit to Austin had an inauspicious beginning. Thwarted by a widespread lack of hotel availability – due to the annual South by Southwest Festival of independent film, music, and other media – and a constitutional aversion to pay big-bucks for multi-stellar lodgings, my booking for the night was at a hell-hole near the University of Texas, aptly named the Roadway Inn. I will not catalog the diverse and plentiful dysfunctions of the accommodations. I’ll mention only that my single-pane windows fronted onto Interstate 35.

But things would get better — and a lot more interesting!

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Be Careful

sam'sbbq

I arrived in Austin as dusk was beginning to descend and was at loose-ends until a meeting at noon the next day. I had a relatively sedate, if not exactly sedentary, evening planned. I had mapped-out a three hour trek that would take me to a seemingly well-regarded BBQ joint, into the heart of the downtown South by Southwest Festival scene, and back through the University of Texas campus to the crappy hotel where I was staying.

Forty minutes after setting-out, I found myself on Austin’s East 12th Street, as grim and raw as any nighttime streetscape you might care to imagine. The streets were just empty enough to feel abandoned, just populated enough to exude a palpable desperation. There was almost no car traffic, despite the relative breadth of the thoroughfare. I had no intention, of course, of wandering into an area of human tragedy. Google Maps can chart one’s path to bypass such things as toll roads or highways, but it does not counsel the avoidance of poverty and hopelessness. And I was not of a mind to alter course, in any event.

Continue reading ‘Be Careful’


Blasts from the Past

Man Up!
Man up you pussy!

... because the idiocy of manliness is an evergreen topic.

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Talking Turkey
how to cook a perfect turkey in half the time

... because Canada and the US will celebrate their Thanksgiving holidays and, regrettably and preventably, not 1-cook-in-10 will serve a decent turkey.

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Filial Piety Awareness Day
Kaki Tusler, Mother's Day Celebrant

... because everyday is Mother's Day.

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America Dreaming Small
American Dream

... because the American Dream seems but a distant memory, given the country's dominant ethos of small-mindedness.

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Serenity and Gratitude to Bring in the New Year
New Year's Eve at Tibetan Pavillion

... to remind us that not every mix of Tibetans and Western spiritual seekers has to be nauseating.

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Incredible Vision
Infinite Vision

... to celebrate the new edition of Infinite Vision published in India.

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Expelliarmus! Harry Potter and the Path to Gandhian Nonviolence
Expelliarmus, Potter, Gandhi, Nonviolence

... reprised because military strategy seems more cruel and less effective than ever -- and certainly there is a better way.

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India Going Nowhere Fast
Nano in Flames

... because cars are ruining Pondicherry, where I live. How badly are they fucking up your Indian town?

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Understanding the Gift Economy
Gift Economy Explained

... reprinted because more-and-more people seem want to understand the gift economy. (Yeah!)

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