My absentee blogger mid-July life update

Rambling bag of typos, coming right up!

Sorry, I know I am totally neglecting this blog. On the other hand, I’m posting (well, sharing, but that’s all usually did) a mountain — seriously, perhaps even more than I did with ModBlog “back in the day” — of body modification stuff on my Facebook wall which you can see here: You don’t have to be my “friend” to see it, it’s all public. The only people who can’t see it are a small but growing list of people who post insulting crap and get themsleves gleefully blocked.

I’m exploring various ways to harvest the wall feed and mirroring it onto a more conventional blog platform, at least for some sort of a searchable archive… Facebook is woefully lacking in features and interface for people who want to blog there, which is unfortunate, because it takes me almost no time at all to create quite a lot of fasinating material. I roughed out some code today that would let me patch into my blog-to-pdf software and perhaps actually create the whole thing as a downloadable magazine that people could even use print-on-demand services to get hardcopies of!!! We shall see.

This entry may be a little rambly because it’s been so long since I’ve posted that I have many things to write on, and will only hit a few of them I’m sure.

One of my connundrums as an atheist parent that tries to instill “atheist values” and a love for rational thinking is how to also instill an appreciation for the spiritual side of life — it may surprise you that atheists can still think of themselves as “spiritual”. Of course we have always enjoyed story telling, which in addition to obvious fiction, has always included mythology of various cultures, from Native American tales like “where the strawberry came from” (which is a very touching fairytale) to big books of Christian Bible Stories. But that’s not the same as really feeling a part of a spiritual life.

One of the most common and earliest “religious experiences” that young people have is that of Santa Claus. Santa rewards ethical behavior with a supernatural act of omnipresent gift giving. Unfortunately while this story starts very, very real, it is thrown away and replaced with the knowledge that it was a lie, and is simply a callous capitalist cash-in for spoiled children. In our house, I have always told Nefarious that Santa is real, and I still do. However, I don’t try and explain “him” as a man-like personification. Instead, for us “Santa” is an idea — and I do not claim this concept of expressing Santa as “the spirit of giving” as my idea or anything, but the basic premise is that “Santa Claus” is a passion that captures people during the Christmas holidays to give gifts to those they love. And this of course is very real, and by acting on that love and that idea, we make Santa as real as he needs to be.

Today we were reading the second book in the WondLa series, “A Hero for WondLa” (which truly is amazing, both the story and the stunning artwork, and I recommend it for both adults young at heart and kids), and a character is nearing death and there is some discussion of the spirit and what happens after we die. I asked Nefarious if she thought that we had a spirit, some sort of “life force” separate from our physical bodies, and she wasn’t sure, but thought we probably did, so I figured I’d tell her what I think — which again isn’t particularly profound, nor is it “my idea”, but it works for me as a parent and an individual.

I subscribe to some concept of Gaia Theory which holds that the Earth is a self-regulating complex system, and in some vague sense, alive as an entity in and of itself on some level. In the same way that the cells in our body combine to make us (and are individually unaware of the whole), we combine to make the whole. At first Nefarious suggested that we humans might not actually be a true part of Gaia, but be a malfunction of some sort similar to a disease, but after thinking about it for a moment, she decided that we were much more likely the brain. I told her — as I think I have written here before — that I am not so sure that we are the brain, but that we are much more likely the reproductive system. Barring Martian asteroid type exogenesis/panspermia, humans are, after all, the first and best shot that Gaia has for repeating itself on other planetary bodies, both in our solar system and beyond. Thus we are Gaia’s reproductive system, and Gaia is currently going through puberty. Explains the terrible acne.

But how does the spirit fit in? The spirit, to my atheist Gaian way of thinking is analogous to a phantom limb. If we lose a limb, even though our mind know it is gone, it is still very much there on some level, and we can still feel it, sense it, and experience it. We imagine it as part of our self-image, although this may fade with time. And on Earth, when a human dies, its mark remains — as is often said, we live on in people’s memory, in the stories they tell about us, in the imprint we leave on the social media and greater history that people continue to experience indefinitely. An echo of us lives on and is very real, and when you consider not individual humans, bue the Gaia super-entity, we are in many ways as real as we ever were. When you look at the complex system that is this planet and the human society that is a dominant subset thereof, we continue to exist for a very long time after our human body perishes and disappears. And if that isn’t a spirit, a very real spirit that genuinely exists, I don’t know what is.

Anyway, I do believe that pondering these cosmological and spiritual musings is an important part of the human experience, and I don’t believe that being a vocal atheist stops one from having passionate faith that there is something greater than ourselves that we are an eternal part of.

Now then. We are having a wonderful summer. I admit it’s more than a little physically draining, every step is agony, and I’m pretty sure when I’m not paying attention I’m being run over by invisible trucks. However, a la “the flame that burns twice as bright burns half as long” I would much rather burn brightly than dimly. And if I’m swimming in the ocean of life, I’d rather keep swimming as far out as I can than constantly worry whether I have saved enough energy for the swim back. I know I’m going to drown sooner than I would like if such things were up to my choosing. But it’s not going to make me not swim.

And moving from the metaphorical to the literal, swimming is something we’ve done a lot of. We even went swimming in the lake here — and I’m looking forward next week to visiting a friend’s cottage next week for a non-polluted beach — and if I remember right, that day we made the afternoon news (on AM640) complaining about the heat.

But that muddy garbage sluge swim was just once — I can’t believe it’s a “blue flag” safe water beach from how disgusting it is. This summer we’ve been favoring Toronto’s Sunnyside Pool, which is not just the largest free (woo woo, and free parking too if you park at High Park) outdoor pool. But maybe more importantly the pool is in constant sunshine so it’s very warm. The High Park pool has a waterslide (which I can’t use because stairs make it a no-go), but it’s freezine cold in comparison for some reason. And it has been so crazy hot here, as even the sad ducks have discovered. It was sort of pathetic looking at these footprints waddling through the duck pond which is normally full of water — I think in a decade of going to this park I have never seen it dried up.

But the great news about the park is that they’ve rebuilt the castle that some assholes burned down a while back. It’s much larger now — I’d say solidly twice as big — and has added a few cool features. It also seems safer, but that’s a bit of a negative as far as many kids are concerned — apparently there aren’t as many little nooks to hide in. But that castle in the past was a place where kids could hide and truly disappear into so I think that made parents nervous. All in all it’s a massive improvement, so I guess that it turned out for the best.

The color is a little boring right now but a few weeks ago kids and community members painted five hundred shields with feel-good slogans and pictures. This echoes some of the community art that is already up in the park from when it was first built. Going with the medieval theme, there’s also a fun “sword in the stone” at the entrance that every single parent has forced their kids to pull on for a photograph!

Oh and we had two additional things happen there in terms of encounters. First, I was sitting reading and I see two cops coming toward me — which always gets my heart beating, because usually those encounters have not been good for me. They say “your daughter is a very sensible girl”, and I notice she’s trailing them. Apparently she couldn’t see where I was sitting in the big crowd that had come for the opening (since this was Mike Holmes filming for HGTV, there was a ton of excited kids telling everyone “I’m going to be on TV!!!”) and went up to the police and said, “Can you help me find my dad? He’s got a lot of tattoos and a big beard”, and they helped her track me down. The big beard though is my other encounter, which is the funnier of the two, I guess because it can make me look like a hobo in some people’s eyes. A little girl and her mom walked past, and she (maybe six years old) turns to her mother and says, “mommy, should we give that old man some money?”

Hahaha. It’s very sweet, but I’m not sure if I should be a little mixed in my feelings!

Did I mention that we went to see Beauty and the Beast? We got to see it on opening night at the Four Seasons Centre (a super venue for this sort of thing), which also mean a few technical errors. I enjoy those more than the show perhaps! We also went to see the amazing Cavalia’s Odysseo, the “horse circus” which was also an incredible night — don’t miss it if it’s in your town. And also had a glitch, when some “naughty horses” started misbehaving and chasing each other around. It was totallt nuts. Other entertainment has included various movies — I loved Prometheus which I saw with Caitlin, and also Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter which I mentioned previously.

Oh — here’s a picture that maybe someone can explain to me. It’s part of a giant mural promoting Toronto down at the bottom of Parkside (Keele). We see it every time we walk to the pool. I have not taken it out of context or selectively cropped it. I can not wrap my head around how it can be something positive — “nothing is possible”… Hmmm… I would understand “nothing is impossible” or “everything is possible”, but this seems like a bit of a downer.

Oh and the shading is a trick of the light — it’s not supposed to say “no thing is possible” either, I think. It’s literally a spirit breaker. This is just as bad as typos on tattoos.

I’ve been working on building up Nefarious’s confidence, and on the “free parenting” meme that I have always advocated, I have let her go out a couple times on neighborhood errands for me, buying things from the corner store and so on. Nothing dangerous, nothing too ambitious for now, but enough to make her feel very proud and know she’s accomplished something independent. Also, because as you may recall one of the problems with her health was that she wasn’t eating good food, Caitlin got her a nice introductory cookbook, and she’s been having a ton of fun (and I think feeling really good about herself) cooking various dishes. Because her mother has MS and is often under the weather, she’s looking forward to helping her out with things like this when the school year resumes. This week she’s made — with Caitlin’s help and a little from me — baked macaroni and sloppy joes from scratch, ranch dressing, yogurt-and-berry parfait, some sort of mega popsicles, and today she made delcious mini blueberry muffins.

Jana was here today so she was pleased to feed her and via her the soon-to-be-baby. In one of our birds-and-the-bees talks I told Nefarious how during natural childbirth it’s normal for the mom to “take a dump” on the baby — eww! — and that part of the reason this has evolved is that it allows a transfer of healthy bacterial (like a “fecal transplan” — look it up!) from mother to child. I was expecting her to say “that’s disgusting” but she said, “well, it’s not as gross as the first part of how a baby is made… you know… the S-E-X part.” Oh, if only that attitude holds up into her teenage years!

I could go on and on and if I had more time I would. We’ve been playing lots of brain games too, today playing some Mind Bender, which she’s getting really good at.

I don’t know if I mentioned it here, but I finally got to see the apnea expert I’ve been waiting to get an appointment with for half a year. I found out there that my sleep study which was done a year ago had worse results than I’d thought, with my oxygen levels dropping to about 75% while I sleep (not good at all), and breathing an average of one or two times an hour, with 40+ incidents of central apnea an hour. Oh and there was a full hour where my breathing was so shallow they couldn’t detect it at all — an hour, yikes! If it wasn’t for the fact that a year has passed and I’m still alive I think they would have checked me in that very day. But now I have another sleep study in two weeks, at the end of the month, with more complete testing being done. I get the impression though that all it will say is the severity, without giving them much ability to explicity tell me why it’s happening or what can be done to help it, or if it will get worse or stay stable.

I am deathly afraid that they will strongly recommend that I be taken off my painkillers — because that is the very first thing they already recommended. I do not know what I would do in that case. I think I would emphasize to them that it is simply not an option that I could survive, because even on the massive levels of painkillers I’m on right now I am in constant and unbearable agony, and if the rest of my life wasn’t so f-ing awesome, I would have swallowed a bullet long, long ago.

Anyway, I have much more to say on a great many subjects, but no time to do it.

Later days.


  1. Clayton wrote:

    That mural is very “They Live” or straight out of Grant Morrison’s comic The Invisibles.

    Monday, July 16, 2012 at 7:12 am | Permalink
  2. nothing is possible
    works for me

    Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 9:49 am | Permalink
  3. Karsten wrote:

    re “nothing is possible”: Einst├╝rzende Neubauten had a song around a somewhat similar idea, “what is is. what not is is possible. only what is not, is possible.” might be a twist on that?

    Wednesday, July 18, 2012 at 4:48 pm | Permalink
Wow Shannon, that's really annoying! What is it, 1997 on Geocities? Retroweb is NOT cool!

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