Monday, February 27, 2006

tabloids a-watching

While on the subject of tabloids – they seem to have developed a strange fad lately - belly watching. Anywhere you turn, scores of magazines stare back at you with what they think is a catchy phrase “is she or isn’t she?” And then there are those inevitable photos of midriffs covered in loose folded fabric, where if you have a magnifying glass and lots of imagination you can supposedly see a bump.

Does that mean that the moment a woman wears a loose dress she is hiding a belly? Or that anytime a woman looks puffy, she is pregnant? Ironically these are the same magazines that obsess when stars get too thin. No wonder they do. With all those flashes on their stomachs they must be terrified to put anything in or around them, be it food or babies.

And the accuracy of those reports is impressive. Just think of the scientific miracles they have brought us. Such as Jennifer Lopez. It is obviously time for the National Geographic to do a special on her, for she is setting a new pregnancy record -- she’s been pregnant every other week, in one tabloid or another, ever since she got married a year and a half ago.

There used to be concepts like tact, consideration, and other noble qualities that seem to have gone the way of the dinosaur. Now the fact that most women do not announce pregnancy because of fear of miscarriage is wasted on the press. Which is strange, considering how many women tabloid-editors there are. I guess it’s true -- power corrupts.

So why do they keep doing it? Apparently these “bump watches” sell magazines. And there I thought that procreation is a sufficiently common thing for us to get used to by now.

People, if Jennifer Lopez gets pregnant, it’s not a miracle! It’s nature. Happens every day. So let her be. When she gets pregnant, she’ll have enough to deal with as it is.

And if you want to shock me into caring, please call me when Marc is the one showing the bump.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

clay aiken lawsuit

Not that I’m into American Idol or anything. But I did watch the first season. And a bit of the second. So I know who Clay Aiken is. He’s the guy who lost… no, wait… won… Whatever. He got a contract and people bought his albums. Lots of them. Cause they saw him on TV and liked, presumably, his singing.

Well, apparently now some of these same people are suing poor old Clay and his team for false advertising. (Former Clay Aiken Fans Sue Record Label for False Advertising). These poor fans have learned that Clay is gay. From very reliable source, I must add – the tabloids.

“It is obvious now that the private Clay is very different from the manufactured packaged public Clay that was marketed to us." The ladies are upset that the record company "engaged in collusion to prevent public disclosures they believed might be harmful to their product."

Whoa, whoa, ladies! Product? Packaged Clay? Now I know we’ve hit the emancipation age, but you don’t have to rub the dudes’ noses in it. And, did I miss something, or Clay was supposed to be selling his music, and not his private little life? Cause he might be entitled to, oh, I don’t know… PRIVACY?

Nevertheless, it is reassuring to know that the legal system has so much time on its hands that it is out there to protect us from being duped. Because we really thought that Britney Spears was a virgin, and that Jessica and Nick Simpson, oops, Lachey, where a match made in heaven. And Brad and Angelina were just friends. Because, ahm… we believe everything celebrities say.

Oh well, now I must go. Because I’m very busy filing a lawsuit against the Black Eyed Peas. I’m suing them for false advertising -- there were no peas in that darn CD package.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

bulls and cows

I found myself involved in a weirdest argument. It was with a person who was convinced that bulls and cows are different species. That there are female bulls and male cows out there (I’m still getting over milking the male cow concept.)

This being a big city (Toronto) and us being in a mall, we decided to settle our differences by questioning unbiased strangers. To my shock and awe, my opponent was winning! The number of confused salespeople leaning towards his side of the argument almost made me doubt myself.

Could it be that while living in the confines of the modern urban life, I lost touch with nature, and it changed without sending me a notice? Maybe there is a male cow out there nowadays? And maybe there is a female bull watching nervously from the sidelines, as her husband takes on one matador after another?

Luckily there is Wikipedia. With respect to cattle: “An intact male is called a bull. An adult female over two years of age (approximately) is called a cow.”

So for all ya city dwellers out there, a bull is a male cattle. It can never be a female. Nor can cow be a guy. It’s female by definition. And it needs a bull to have kids. Who will grow into bulls and cows, dah…

Boy, I surely hope the education minister reads this one. Or soon we’ll be debating muffin harvesting.

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

my mind and i

Last night I had a lucid dream. The one where you realize you are dreaming, and therefore are free to do what you want.

It was the most amazing experience. I could fly, I could explore new places, all the while being aware that I’m dreaming. And then, as usual, my mind tricked me out of it. But this time it made me think that I saw my son on a high bed, about to take a hard fall. In panic I rushed to wake up to save him, only to find him safely tucked under his blanket. Thank God.

Now, that’s the thing about my mind. Every time I get to a point where I think I’m in control, and am flowing blissfully across the universe, it knocks me right out of it. I’m used to it, and I expect the knocks. It keeps me grounded in dreams and in reality. So I don’t get my nose to high, and don’t imagine life to be smooth sailing.

But darn, I wish it didn’t take cheap shots.

Friday, February 17, 2006

Bread and circuses

A few nights ago I saw a movie called “Good night and good luck”.

It was a superbly crafted movie. It told a story of a courageous journalist Edward R. Murrow standing up to the callous persecution unleashed by Senator Joseph McCarthy. The movie had a message about human rights, censorship, personal values, government manipulation. All the things that are just as valid today as they were fifty years ago. All the things that you would hope people cared about.

Well, there were only 4 people in the theatre, two of whom were me and my husband. I thought that maybe it was just a bad day. So I checked the stats at, to find that despite tremendous reviews, the movie has grossed less than $30 million over the 19 weeks it has been released. By comparison King Kong has grossed over $215 million in 9 weeks. A giant ape roaming through the streets of New York clearly has a much greater appeal than somebody asking people to slow down and think.

“The people long eagerly for just two things. Bread and circuses,” said the Roman satiric poet Juvenal. I guess he was right. Too bad things hardly changed over these past two thousand years.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

the muhammad cartoons controversy

After the original publication of the Muhammad cartoons in a Danish newspaper, it has been made very clear that many people found them offensive. The amazing thing has been the insistence of other publications to republish these cartoons after they have already ignited so much chaos. According to Wikipedia they were republished in 40 countries. In defense of their actions the publishers unanimously insight freedom of speech.

It made me wonder, what exactly is freedom of speech to these people? Ability to insult others just because they can?

In our day-to-day life we seem to know what is wrong. Nobody would argue that a person making fun of someone’s illness, or insulting someone’s mother is right. You wouldn’t distribute an embarrassing caricature of your friend at their workplace. At least not if you expect to remain friends. As people interacting with other people, over the course of our history of living together, we’ve learned that some things need to not be said or done.

This is not a question of censorship. This is a question of moral values, which publishers should not be immune to. Has it been unnoticed by them, after the first publishing, that it offends so many people? Does publishing it again promote a noble goal, like spreading tolerance? Encouraging education? Helping the oppressed? Creating a peaceful world for our children?

If they are so fixed on free speech, surely they can look in their own backyard and find stories that need to be told. Find people who are shut out and need a voice to speak for them.

Doing something just because you can is not a sign of moral maturity. Making intelligent choices is. If everyone on a planet with six and a half billion people said and did what they felt like without regard for other human beings, we wouldn’t last here very long.

Tuesday, February 14, 2006

figure skaters set the standard

I was watching the Olympic figure skating today. Now I’ve been watching skating religiously since I was about 6 years old. I thought I’ve seen it all. But the feat accomplished by Zhang Dan is a true testament to the human will power. After taking a nasty spill to a point where she couldn’t even walk at first, in a span of mere two minutes she composed herself to go on and complete the program. She and her partner, Zhang Hao, won the silver medal.

I have no idea how she did it. Anybody else would’ve walked off the ice. In fact, the commentators were expecting her to. But she soldiered on.

The gold went to Russians (Tatiana Totmianina and Maxim Marinin). It is a pair that less than two years ago had a life-threatening fall, with Tatiana falling head first during a difficult lift. She is still suffering the ill-effects from that concussion.

The bronze went to another Chinese pair (Shen Xue and Zhao Hongbo). It was their first competition this season. They’ve battled incredible odds to come back from his turn Achilles tendon roughly six months ago. It is an injury from which it would normally take at least a year to recover.

Every time there is a championship, somebody performs below par. And very often the athletes or the commentators go and on and on about the injuries, the flue, the wrong altitude, poor ice conditions, shaky nerves, etc…

The results of this competition should serve as a lesson to them and to everybody in general. It is not the conditions that matter. The winners are not the once who have no troubles on the way. It’s the once who overcome them. Even when the odds are one to infinity, and everyone thinks you are coming off the ice.

Friday, February 10, 2006

olympics ads

The 2006 Olympics have began. Welcome to the poignant Olympic ads. There is the child that plays hockey and is therefore inexplicably linked to Tim Hortons (a Canadian coffee chain). There are the average Janes and Joes who get gracious “thank yous” from the athletes for supporting them via Petro-Canada (does that explain the gas price hike?). And of course, there is no shortage of true stories of how little teams had no chance, but a bank came to their rescue. Haven’t caught any Visa commercials yet, which makes me wonder if it is actually Olympics I am watching – though maybe they were timed exactly at those nature-calls moments.

See, we all know that commercials are not meant to be genuine. They are there to sell a product. And that’s fine. That’s the way the business world works. But all these “thank yous” and we “truly care” are pushing the line. If they truly cared, they wouldn’t waste so much money on all these commercials – they’d invest it in the athletes! Isn’t there some kind of law against false advertising?

So please, if you are a gas company – tell us how great your gas is. If you make coffee – tell us about the coffee. And if you’re a bank – tell us how to get more than 0% interest on our savings.

And unless you are in the handkerchief business – stop the tearjerkers!


Sometimes your mind needs a break from it all. And no, you can’t just get up and go to Bahamas. Isn’t there a cheaper way? Yes there is. It is called meditation.

Contrary to some perceptions, meditation isn’t just closing one’s eyes and reaching Nirvana at a moment’s notice. It actually needs to be practiced regularly to bring results. There is a plethora of techniques out there. But most of them boil down to getting your body to be asleep while your mind is awake and not thinking.

The “not thinking” part is usually the worst. It’s virtually impossible to shut the mental rambling: “Am I thinking? Am I breathing? Am I getting enlightened? Did I just see the light? Why am I seeing stars in front of me?…” That mental conversation makes it difficult to achieve any higher levels of awareness.

My solution? Use HemiSync. It is a way of recording sounds so that the effect is to harmonize the two brain’s hemispheres. ( has a much better explanation of how it works.) I use a HemiSync metamusic CD “Cloudscapes”. For anyone out there meditating – this system can relax your brain whether you’re doing anything else or not. I’ve used it successfully to meditate, to fall asleep, to take of stress, or just to get my wits together. I even used it when I was in labor.

But my true appreciation of HemiSync came when my son was about three months old. One day he just kept crying and crying. After hours of trying to feed him/change him/play with him/put him to sleep I was at the end of my rope. Then, at a stroke of inspiration, I turned the music on very softly and put the headphones on him. Of course it could’ve been the shock from the whole “headphones bigger than my head” experience, but facts are facts – he calmed down and fell asleep.

Needless to say, my opinion of this self-meditating CD grew tenfold on the spot.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

everyday miracles

A number of years ago I was reading "Supermundane" by Helena Roerich. The book described the Brotherhood that dwelt in the mysterious Shambala. I was very affected by the discussion of how these advanced souls work to help humanity, who, for the most part, remain unaware of their efforts. She wrote that we need only reach out and open our hearts, and when it's a worthy cause there is always help.

Now, I'm naturally a skeptic. However I do believe in supreme forces guiding us along the path - whether we call them Gods, Brotherhood or any other name. But it is one thing to logically arrive at that conclusion, it is another to experience it.

In those days I was short on money. I had missed two years of university, for various personal reasons, and therefore lost my scholarship. July came, and I was supposed to call my university to let them know if I am returning. This was my last chance to get back in the program.

I felt I have done everything I could to go back. I studied, I held a job and I had a strong desire to continue my education. But the finances just weren't adding up. University was not happening.

One day I was left alone in a friend's empty house with nothing to do for hours. I lay on the couch and contemplated my misfortune. I felt like I was up against a stone wall and there was nothing I could do about it. I was quite depressed, to say the least.

And that's when I remembered the book.

Not being religious and not knowing any specific prayers, I just closed my eyes and mentally spoke into the void. I clearly envisioned that there were helpers out there somewhere, and that they were listening. Quite matter-of-factly I stated to them: "Please help me. I've done all I can. You can read me and you know that I really want to study. But I can't afford it. I don't know what to do. It is up to you now. Anyway you choose, I will accept it."

I felt better after that, because I truly believed that the choice wasn't mine anymore. Mine was already made -- the rest was up to the universe.

The following morning I called the admissions officer to notify that I wasn't coming back. I only got a chance to say my name. Before I uttered another word, the lady on the other end proclaimed: "I was just going to call you. I came across your file this morning, and have decided to reinstate your scholarship!"

I was completely speechless. That was as clear an answer as a universe can give! Not only could I pay tuition, but the scholarship was enough to cover all the books, and still have some left over!

Coincidence? I don't think so.

I remember jumping around screaming "thank you" into the void. For it was pretty clear that someone intervened and cleared my path.

The lesson I took from that is that if you want something, your job is to do all you can towards that goal. At that point your conscience will be clear. And then, just ask - if that something is meant to be, the universe, or its representatives, will step in and help you.

And if they do nothing - you probably still have some work to do, or you are treading the wrong path…

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

conversations without boundaries

My father used to tell me this story. A long time ago he traveled to the remote countryside of Ukraine. One time he was staying in an old stone house. In the middle of the night he was awakened from his sleep by very strong vibrations. The walls trembled and the screechy light fixture wobbled back and forth. He would have assumed that it was an earthquake, had it not being for the fact that such things never happen in that region.

The morning came, and all shaken up he came downstairs for breakfast. Local folks were already there, munching away on their scrumptious country meals. Trying to appear unaffected, he mentioned some shaking he felt at night. Unflustered they casually reported that an old lady has died during the night. Then added: “This is a stone house -- it must have been hard for her soul to get out.”

Just like that. To them, the passage of a soul was a completely natural thing, and they saw confirmation for it in their daily lives. There was no reason why such event would not be a normal topic of conversation.

Nowadays we do not notice or acknowledge things like that. The modern world has been so overwhelmed by science, that anything not within its immediate domain is labeled “impossible” or “supernatural” and is swept under the rug. It is expected that all “spiritual” issues are to be discussed in church groups or amongst like-minded friends only.

And so we can’t go to work, sit down at a desk, and casually tell a coworker that we saw a ghost in our room the other night. At least we wouldn’t if we wanted to keep our jobs long term. And we can’t have an open discussion about how we had a vision of a long-deceased grandmother.

Are we not missing out on something? Like finding out that our “supernatural” occurrences are not as exceptional as we think? Or that this world has much more miracles than we officially account for?

If the house is shaking, why pretend that it was an earthquake, when no other house in the city felt a thing?

Monday, February 06, 2006

where do we meet?

So, the Christian people go to churches, Muslim people go to mosques, Jewish people go to synagogues, etc. I guess organized religions have their perks – it’s very easy to spot a member of your faith. All you have to do is go to the central place of worship, and there you are -- surrounded by like-minded individuals. The common ground is clear to all, and thus discussion can flow easily along the path that everyone will understand.

But how do we, hopelessly detached antiestablishment souls, find our kind? The whole concept of a central point of worship tends to go against our grain, for as soon as we smell a sign of “organization”, we become suspicious, start questioning, and fall off the wagon. Unless of course we accidentally create our own religion and thus fall out of the category, so never mind that.

I've pondered that question for a while, and in my search for other rebels tried some yoga classes. Well, apparently they have become such a hip new way of finding peace and health with minimum effort, that for the most part the spiritual aspect is as deep as Madonna’s devotions accompanying the launch of her new albums. Don’t get me wrong here – those pretzel moves are fun and quite relaxing. It’s just that they are not eclectic enough for me anymore. Especially with all the brands of yoga props, and yoga clothes, and yoga tapes, and yoga books, and yoga music… yoga centers… The chances of finding ‘philosophically unrestrained’/’anything is possible’ individuals in these classes are the same as in your neighborhood’s swimming pool – possible, but not heightened in any way. So why waste the precious dollars? Unless, of course, you’re into the “finding peace and health with minimum effort” part – which I am, but I prefer tapes, to save those dollars.

I also thought about attending some events. And so I looked into some new-age publications, hoping to find some interesting speakers. But the amount of “renowned psychics” consulted “by police” and various “branches of government” made me too nervous. What if, on that odd chance that they actually have some power, they’ll discover my social insurance number, my passport and my credit card… Ok, ok. I just don’t want to spend all that time and money on figuring who is for real and who is a crook. I think there should be a psychic rating system out there. Something like “” for the mediums.

So for now my search for likeminded souls is limited to bugging store-clerks at new-age bookstores and gambling with those not-too-heightened odds in my neighborhood’s swimming pool. The method works, though not as well as I would like. Or I wouldn’t be blogging here in the silent cyberspace.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

what is your religion?

“What is your religion?” Surprisingly enough that’s a question I get asked pretty often. When I say none, the most frequent assumption is that I’m an atheist. Of course than I try to explain that I’m a spiritual person, that I believe in many things mentioned in major religions and more, but for some reason that tends to conjure up a tarot reading, horoscope consulting, spell casting and other new age stereotypes that are now so prominent.

Why can’t a person be none of the above, and yet remain a conscious, intelligent (I certainly hope so) human being? Why is this necessity to group everyone into recognizable and repetitive patterns? Maybe I take an interest in astrology (and I do), but that does not mean I care about tarots or other cards. Maybe I will at some point, but not now. So stop assuming things.

The quest for truth is something that we all should be able to pursue without feeling trapped by someone else’s boundaries of what is and isn’t part of a given religion/movement/philosophy. I don’t have to be Christian to take interest and appreciate the teachings of Jesus Christ, I don’t have to be a Buddhist to ponder possibility of Nirvana. I don’t have to be a Theosophist to read the writings of Blavatsky. No do I have to agree with all the things I read.

And I reserve the right to come up with ridiculous theories about how the world works, and believe in them until proven otherwise, without being labeled crazy. Why not? The clergies are doing it, the scientists are doing it -- I’m just playing their game. My way.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

the mission statement


This blog has stirred so far from the original mission, that I have no choice but to edit it (the mission, that is). And since I have no idea yet where it’s going, I’m not putting a new one in either. Maybe someday…