Tuesday, 28 December 2010

This is gonna be good

Well, what other outlook could I possibly have at this point except that of the positive kind? 

My personal challenge to read four novels for the month of December 2010 has only three days left to be fulfilled.  Admittedly,  I'm two-and-a-half novels behind.  Nevertheless, I shall continue reading while starting the challenge for January 2011, (life spared).  A bit of an overlap there but, it's a necessary one, I imagine.  Remember, the idea was to read a few novels, learn a thing or two, then re-visit the novel I wrote for NaNoWriMo?  So, still on that.

The challenge has proven to be even more of a challenge in the dedicated month of December.  So much stuff to do in the month. But, as it turns out, it's the one that follows November; the month of the adrenaline-pumping (for the most part) novel-writing in 30 days.

A few things I've learnt so far?
  • Don't be afraid to name all the people that show up - even in some small way - in your novel
  • Bring in humour when it's least expected
  • Assume your readers are intelligent
  • You can get away with "stock phrases"; commonly-used terms, but compensate with really, really good twists and turns
Still learning. Still looking forward to January's editing.  Perhaps that should be, "looking forward to starting the editing in January".  All that, along with the plethora of fantastic outcomes I'm anticipating for the new year.  Ahhh!  I'm definitely a New Year kind o' girl!

In any case, I'm on it!  You with me?


Sunday, 19 December 2010

When you don't know the difference you make

First things first. I missed posting on the 18th. I'm not gonna beat myself up over it.  Not more than is necessary. 

To those who read this blog - yes, all three of you :-) - I'm sorry I didn't make it yesterday as scheduled.  I could tell you why but it may come off sounding like an excuse, rather than a reason.  Anyway, it's along the lines of the being there for someone vs. getting to do what I wanted when I wanted.  

Choices. Such a big concept engulfed in a rather small word. We make 'em every day and we suffer, or enjoy, the consequences or rewards of them. And, more often than not, I find that the after-effects would be more appropriately deemed the "long after" effects.  I tweeted something the other day about doing for only one but how much it may make a difference to that one. Little did I realize that that phenomenon was being manifested in a single, long-forgotten act of mine. This blog shows up on my page at MarCom Professional.  An alert came in a few days ago that someone had commented on a post. I checked and was truly surprised. It's not clear why the other alerts hadn't come in but, there were about six or so comments from April of this year on the same post.  What 
took me aback, however, was the sentiment expressed in many of the comments. Essentially, the poem I had shared, "When God wants a man", spoke to their hearts; was a real blessing.  And the fact that they took the time to let me know that, spoke to mine.  A few also let me know the name of the author: Henry Francis Lyte, 
a Scottish Anglican Hymnwriter who penned "Abide with me". To think, folks were being touched in such a meaningful way by that single act of sharing!   

Because of that, I have been encouraged to keep writing; to keep writing this blog; to hold precious the opportunity...the privilege I have to share something with others. Hopefully, for the most part, it'll be something that makes a positive difference in the lives of others. Even one other. I so believe in ripple effects...   

Of course, it has reinforced my resolve to use my gift, my talent, to the last; to strive to live the life that matters and use up every single solitary drop.         


Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Wrote a novel in 25 days

Purposely omitted the exclamation sign in the title. For, by now, it's not about an announcement, per se. (OK.  One more peek at my Winner badge...)

It really is more like a quiet and sobering realization. Imagine taking up the challenge to write a novel of at least 50,000 words in 30 days, on the 5th day in! At the start, I was behind, but knew I wanted to do it anyway. I went at it with the appropriate number if butterflies in my stomach.

The organizers (NaNoWriMo)knew what they were talking about wrt the reliable muse of public humiliation. That helped. But, in the end, what did I learn? About writing? About my ability? About relationships?

Writing a novel is hard. It is like ... well, it's UNlike anything else I've ever done. (I hear it's like giving birth, but I don't have first hand experience of that yet.) First, you wonder, why did I set out to do this again? And, after you've convinced yourself that it makes sense to do it, (for whatever your reason), you find that it's harder than you imagined. You then pause, having begun, (and knowing that others are watching you try to accomplish the feat), to ask yourself whether you really like writing or whether you like the IDEA of writing or being a writer. (Gotta say, it's a lovely idea.)

Once you've convinced yourself that you are indeed a writer and you don't just like the idea of writing or being a writer, you proceed. And, at some point, it hits you, you are not alone in whatever state you may find yourself. Even the best of the best; the New York Times-bestselling authors; the Scotiabank Giller prize winners; former WriMos et al, have gone through similar gut-wrenching, daunting, black-hole-engulfing feelings. It's a myriad questions and anxieties and what not. And you still have to keep at it, even when you feel you're making 10 steps backward for every one page finished; disliking the very story you're writing...

I was careful not to write "about self-discovery" - with good reason. This, however, deals with discovering - and not in a Chris Columbus kind of way - that I do in fact have that thing in me to complete a book. Well, it's not one thing, (although there is one thing that is essential without which I couldn't do it), but a number of things working in tandem. Having believed for a looong time that I am a writer - so many people have told me, they couldn't all be wrong; I began to embrace the evidence myself a while back, too - I knew I could achieve that feat in one fell swoop. So, it was a personal challenge; an extraordinary 'note-to-self'. And, in the end, it was done. I discovered the ability to do something I had never done before.

What does that mean? For one, I now feel way more confident in helping my dad write his book. That one has been a long time coming. Two, I am confident that I can write another novel and another. Having opened my eyes and mind to the lessons and tips along the way, I have even begun to think that perhaps a collection of short stories is (finally) in order. The moral of the story? They're all within reach. Just need to extend my hand - even if it means a bit o' tip toe effort - and grab 'em!

I recently changed my @cyopro Twitter profile text (Yes. Again.) to read something along the lines of 'only you will ever be you and let's use our talent to the last drop.' I think it's important - and possibly, life saving - to resolve and take the necessary steps not to die with it inside. So, even before all this when I was encouraging people to be the best they can; say what they have to; breathe... and all that, it was against the backdrop of leading by example. Not just talking the talk. To roll the sleeves up and do it can be so inspiring to others. Now, I smile when I realize that I've done that. And, sometimes, we just need to be inspired.

Ummm...these don't end just because you're writing. Relationships, like life, continue irrespective of whether you are writing, thinking about writing or thinking about what to write. The quality of them might change just a tad. By that I mean frequency of calls and get-together (and knowing that the people from the gym might call, again, 'cause long-time-no-see!) and such. But, the ones that really matter? The relationships with your mom, your dad, your siblings, your tightest friends (not the 500+ on fb - not knocking it, just sayin'), remain solid. 'Cause they know you. Well. They understand that your 'free' time is devoted to writing and schedules are made around the writing. They occasionally enquire on how it's going but not so often you feel annoyed, especially when you haven't met your word-count for the day. They are supportive and helpful and are your biggest cheerleaders and critics - sometimes embodied in the same person. (Right @MizDurie?)

In short. They get it. They get you. And there is glorious comfort in that.

So, I've tweeted about my little challenge for December - to read one novel per week for the month. The idea is to tap into the beautiful works of my fav authors and see where and how mine falls short.  I'm on it. Now reading Robin Cook's "Vital Signs".

The idea of my novel stemmed from my idea for a play. So, there are three things I'm working on now, as I seek to use my God-given talent well - the novel, the play and the book of short stories. This doesn't mean other projects are excluded. Nope. Like I said, "to the last drop."

And, as has long been my main concern about that to which I put my hands: "Do I make Him proud?"


Sunday, 28 November 2010

NaNoWriMo and me

It's important to me to keep my blog appointments - especially when I have something to say. And that's the only reason I'm doing this at 11:20PM. I have a few ideas that I've penciled in my handy notebook. However, I believe a better time to address any of them, would be in the next post - all being well.

Until November 30, 2010, I will remain caught up in the NaNoWriMo challenge. Just a couple more days to go; just a few thousand words to go. I've sent my mom and a sis a first-read copy. Hmm. Think I might put a few of those ideas on ice and, in the next post, talk about the amazing and ability-discovering adventure that this novel-writing challenge has turned out to be!

My! Who would've thunk it?


Thursday, 18 November 2010

Three questions about being “in the know”

(Talking about the individual here – not businesses/organizations.)

When was the last time you were online - not counting right now? How much time do you spend online everyday? If your job requires it, totally understood. If it doesn’t, how much time would you say you dedicate to surfing or communicating or researching? My guess is, a heck of a lot. (Not very scientific but, you get it.)

Imagine a day away from any Internet connection. You might still have your laptop because, like me, you just have to keep writing, having taken up the #NaNoWriMo challenge. But, I’m talking about no net! Now, what would you do on that day? (Without, you know, tearing out your hair or biting your nails the whole time.) How would you spend your day? Could you possibly enjoy it - especially if you were not on vacation?

Between the Internet and the innumerable media houses – including electronic and print – there is the foreboding feeling that I have to know everything! “They” try to convince me that I simply must know what is happening in every country in every field with every head of state, celebrity and their children and friends and followers!!! And if I don’t know, then, to the rest of those who are riding this train, I am totally off track. "They" wouldn’t let me near an “intelligent” conversation.

But, like, seriously? All those sites that we surf and channels we skip and pages we flip through, what if we should consciously take in everything being thrown at us?! Jeesh! My heads feels heavy just thinking about it.

So, no, I don’t need to know everything. Certainly not that the couple showers together twice a day. No, wait! Let's see just how much info our Agenda-Setting media, who won't be bested by any ol' Tom, Dick or Harry with a cellphone, will be pushing down our throats about the royal-wedding-to-be! Sick of it yet? I think the sensationalism of "commoner weds royalty" has been downright diluted because, well, we've been through the Charles&Camilla saga. No lesson learnt from the hounding of Lady Di? What gives? And that was a time when information sharing, compared to today's real-time, was still in the Stone Age. No matter how glamorous some make it sound; no matter how sensational; no matter how cute; no matter no matter no matter. I do not necessarily need to know. I do not want to be consumed by it all and lose myself in the process. So, I choose. And I live with the consequences of those choices.

And what of those things that I do need to know. (Not even the “I’d like to know.” We’ve skipped past that. For some semblance of guidance on it, see above and apply as required.) But those things I need to know? How bad is the world going to turn out if I don’t get the news the very second it falls? I mean, really, can’t they wait? Well, in truth, some of them really can’t but, a good deal of them sure can! And that right there is a part of the issue. It has got that much more difficult, with the advent of info at the touch of so many buttons on so many instruments, to determine, beforehand, what is urgent and what isn’t. Not until you retrieve the info you know you needed, and thought you needed now, do you realise that, y’know? It could have waited.

What am I missing while spending an inordinate and egregious amount of time online – in any shape, size or form? Life. Well, a chunk of it, anyway. Won’t know how much until later on, I can just feel it. Better shape up now, then. I did say “inordinate and egregious.” Because being online and in the hub of information hubs has become a part of the way we live. So, there’s no getting away from that. We’ve created this monster and now have been conditioned to feed it in order for us to sort of live without the stress we would not have had in the first place, had we not gone (this far) down this road. (And we will be going farther).

Here’s to those of us who maintain solid, healthy, beautiful offline relationships with people that we can hug and kiss and smile with and sing to every so often. Peace, beauty, happiness and love to you!


Monday, 8 November 2010

My two reasons for joining the NaNoWriMo 2010 competition

Have you ever decided to do something, knowing that other people would be watching or somehow become aware of the outcome? You know you’d be on the hook? Think back. Did you do it, eventually? Why? Why not?

I don’t have stats to support the percentage of people who procrastinate on a daily basis; take up challenges in public and never finish; do finish…that sort of thing. I mean, where would I find those anyway? Yahoo it? (LO real L!)

Imagine that you’ve decided to enter a marathon – doesn’t matter which or where. Maybe, say, 99% of the people don’t know you; have never heard of you; don’t care. However, your inner circle of family members, friends, relatives, you know? The people who really matter? They know! Oh my gosh! They so know. They’ve witnessed you practising and, especially if it’s for a ‘cause – have hit up their own friends to sponsor you in your venture. So, even more people know.

Well, more often than not, those within your inner circle – and a few others – will be lined up or watching on TV or linked by BBM, Twitter, FB etc. to remain tuned in to how you are doing. Or, shortly after, to find out how you’ve done.

The NaNoWriMo, which I learned about after the month of NaNoWriMo-madness had begun, is kinda like that. I’ve already told a few people in the inner circle, the 40-odd FB friends, and the 20-odd connections on Twitter. (Way too much pressure to embrace the concept of people following me. Reminds me of a saying by Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin: “There go my people. I must find out where they are going so I can lead them!”) Anyway, that’s the lot. Oh! And now you, the reader of this post.

Now, having started, I have to continue.

THE REASONS (in no particular order)
1. I rock
I try to keep in mind a few tips that the organizers wrote in their confirmation email after I signed up: “You rock for even trying!” That doesn’t give me an out; a sugar-coated pat on the back to say, “There there! It’s okay if you don’t finish in time.” No, what it says to me is that they get it. They get that writing is sometimes as easy as breathing and for the other 99% of the time, it’s as tough as a diamond. (Yes. On purpose – ‘cause I imagine the oohs and aahs when it gets done.) Someone said they wouldn’t wish it on their worst enemy; another, that it’s 3% talent and 97% staying away from the Internet. You get it.

2. The discipline
This venture is actually helping me hone the discipline I need to write better. So many times I’ve had to make a note to self: “You’re a writer.” True. There have durations of quiet; silence; stillness on the writing front. Nothing for the public. My best attempt at publicly keeping the consistency and regularity has been this blog. And, that was after I convinced myself that while I wouldn’t be pressured into saying just anything simply because I blog, I must have a point of view on something!

I’ve written books of poetry, short stories; a book – all unpublished. I’ll get ‘em out. Somehow. The writing I hold most dear, however, is my journal/prayer journal (it metamorphosed) spanning the last 25 years or so. Still at it; still loving it.

November 5, 2010 was my start date for my novel. The thing began on November 1, 2010. No worries. Instead of the 1600+ words recommended to make the deadline, I need to be doing more than that now to catch up. As it is (joyfully) turning out, I’m writing an average of about 2200 words per day. At that rate, I should be back on track in about 12 – 14 days. Do the math. No, serious, do the math.

3. The competition
Especially that I’m competing against myself. That’s how I put it, anyway. I just need to finish this novel. According to the rules – “Unless, I’m wrong, which, you know, I’m not” (Moooooonk!) – to finish (writing a novel of at least 50,000 words) is to win.

I like the part where they talk about shutting up your “inner editor”. He can be so noisy –and I don’t know why mine is a ‘he’. They remind us that December is for editing; just write with “wild abandon!”

Now, did I say two reasons? Anyone who knows me well, knows I’m math-challenged. As I tweeted the other day, I no longer cringe when I make those (especially obvious) mistakes. Now, I could have just gone ahead and replaced the two with three, but, where’s the fun in that? How would I have got that beauty of an opportunity to refer to my tweet? (Heh heh.)

To NaNoWriMo! To Victory! Haroo!


Thursday, 28 October 2010

The gawking, the stalking and the (non) talking: Confessions of a torn Facebook user

As promised, in this entry, I’ll share my take on Facebook and why I was only sorta on it. And this is as of right now. Hey, you never know! (Was just about to put a hashtag on that #YouNeverKnow – then I remembered where I was.) My feelings toward it might just change by next Tuesday. (Don’t ask!)

Well, there’s a good place to start. Feelings. I dare say, too many of mine were being engaged in the idea of making “Facebook friends” (quotation marks intentional) and connections. One of my girlfriends, whom I’ve known for more than 25 years, heard a smidgen of my angst the other day and summed it up quite nicely, “You are too weird!” All I could say was, “Yeeaaah.”

I joined Facebook sometime in early 2007, I think. My Facebook friends count now? About 46ish – in any case, it’s under 50. Essentially, three groups comprise the count – High School Alma Mater; the Alma Mater where I did my BA and the Alma Mater where I did my MA. The remaining connections are family, relatives and a few offline friends I’ve known since childhood.

I get that many people are interested in looking at pics of friends from Adam. The whole picture/thousand words thing does make sense. And it is fun to look and reminisce and all that. No substitute for going way back and enjoying it together. What I don’t get, though, is the gawking. People connect with others and simply comb through their pictures (yes, ‘cause they let ‘em!) clicking through album after album, without making a single comment. How do I know this? I found myself doing it. And I am 100% sure I’m not the only one who’s dunnit. And my doing that scared me that I could be that person – taking a kind of warped interest in the life of someone whom I hadn’t talked with in ages. Warped, because, after the gawking, I’d have no inclination, whatsoever, to exchange even two words! #EverGetThat? Not to mention my "Wait! Who's that living my life?" stares. Ouch! That musta hurt God's feelings.

I stopped gawking.

Round about September of 2009, when I had about 50-something Facebook friends, I posted a kind note on my wall to inform that I was going to unfriend (or de-friend – whatever the term I used) a few people. I explained that I found we didn’t talk much and whenever I was on Facebook, I’d feel like I was stalking (!)

‘Cause I did feel that way, man!

I’d go on and check their walls and comments and what-not. I’d catch-up with their lives – as much as they cared to share – tracking their moves (?!) I mean, what was the point? Surely, there had to be more than that to Facebook. (Occasionally, one or two persons would say hi – they never gave up on me.) I convinced myself that I wasn’t using the space to its fullest potential; wasn’t making the best use of it at all. So, with plans to return after appointing an FAM (Facebook Account Manager – yeah), I took a hiatus. I recall one person saying that they (the un/de-friended) really weren’t going to like it (she wasn’t one of them). But, alas! The deed was done. I also opened my mind to the probability that some of those who’d remained would probably un/de-friend me. I was prepared.

Long after, I’d pop in – rarely – to post a vid I liked or an article I thought was worth sharing. That kinda thing.

I just wondered why folks would send invitations, and then not talk to me. Couldn’t see through that. Was an Facebook friend not a friend? Don’t friends talk to each other? Another aspect was just as puzzling. Friend request when we barely say hello offline? Even though we might cross paths every so often?

It took me a while to get it. Facebook friends are not necessarily friends, per se. No deep analysis required. They may be friends; associates; colleagues; someone you met once; third cousin twice removed; friend of a friend of a friend – you catch my drift. (I just recently caught that drift.)

Even though we had connected – after years and years of not knowing what each other had been up to; where each other’s beliefs now lie and so on – what we cared to share would, clearly, not tell the whole story. And the truth is that we really might not have much in common after all! Really might not have anything of such substance to glue a decent conversation together. To my mind, that explained a lot! That’s why we weren’t talking!

“Yes, Claudia,” you say. “That there is one of the mischiefs that Facebook tries to cure.” Get reacquainted and what not. I say fine, but, am I the only one who gets even a little bit queasy about reconnecting with long time friends/folks?

The big omission in all this? That thing that you’ve been waiting for me to admit? I wasn’t initiating m/any conversations myself. Of course, I’d go on about not talking and so on, but hardly ever said hello.

Before coming out of hiatus, I got into Twitter more (@cyopro - see previous post for how that all went down.) I then permitted the app to run on Facebook and, Voila! I was instantly increasing posts and presence on Facebook! And, little by little (never “mis-underestimate” the power of baby steps), a few friends began to take note and the conversations began to grow more frequent. Then, a few old-new friends connected, and I accepted – without the level of queasiness I used to experience. (I tell you. Waaay too much thought.) As I lightened up a bit, for some areas, I started permitting “friends of friends” and, cautiously, in others, “everyone”! Mmhm! We’re cookin’ now!

As with any online social network space, participation in Facebook highlights a kind of opposition, if you will, between online and offline realities. Many construct this virtual world and become convinced that it is “just like real life”. Nuh-uh! The personal pics and vids shared are, for the most part, pleasant. Indeed, they capture the moments of beauty. But, how many folks post pics and articles of ugly details of what’s happening to “others” in other countries or wherever and do/would do the same detailing the awful moments of their own lives? They may personally experience brutal and ugly moments, but those are not gonna make it to Facebook; not even in private albums. And even if some folks talk about it, sorta, they mightn’t touch the matter directly but kinda talk around it.

Offline, attention and popularity may wane; the 500 friends mightn’t show up at the barbecue (love this "Throw'd TV" clip). I see it as a space where folks enter, do stuff, then leave. I don’t know anyone who is “always on” Facebook, but I’ve heard that "they walk among us." And when the "book" is closed? When the site goes down at any time? I imagine there are shrieks of horror heard around the world. And, just imagine, those shriekers have to talk to other people now? Either that or scream at the computer until it gets back up. Not to worry. These addicts, well, they haven't lost their minds. They have them backed up on Facebook. Good thing FB allows you a zip file of your FB life - according to that site and a few others.

As one of my sisters put it, when you get into Facebook, it’s like entering a huge space where everybody’s chatting and you’re hearing all these voices and some are talking with you and others are within earshot so you join in, if you feel like it, and you may be interrupted by someone who wants to chat when you’re trying to complete a move or a thought but, it’s organic and, like Hammy the speedy squirrel said in “Over the Hedge”: “It never ends!!!”

So, I’m in. Back. On. Into. On top of… (whatever) Facebook. I understand that there’s so much more to Facebook – groups, organizations’ pages etc. – a whole ‘nother’ world I have yet to explore. No, I don’t have a FAM – it’s just me. As I proceed, however, I’m ever careful. And, I’d ask you to exercise due care in building your online presence as well. To parody that Ontario Lottery and Gaming ad (and, I don’t play the lottery; I just think it’s a neat line): “Know your limit. Post within it.”


Last week, a former CFB Trenton Commander was sentenced to life with no possibility of parole for 25 years. I honestly don’t want to repeat the atrocities and perversions he committed. I’ve thought about posting a link…OK. Here’s one.

For a while, as this unfolded, I realized that, just given the graphic details that reporters provided, I could only read two accounts. I came to the realization that I did not want these things to be repeated to me over and over and over. Not once did I tune in to a TV news item or special coverage of what was unfolding. It was just too horrible. I read a part of a report after he had been sentenced. I made my last tweets on the subject – no more than two.

The crimes he had committed, the ways in which he had committed them (he pleaded guilty) and the reality that all this was embodied in one person who, on top of it all, held such a prestigious position, made me feel sick. And angry. And awful. So much so that, for a while, I could not get to that place where I could forgive him and have compassion on him. That’s not something that I could reconcile with my Christian beliefs and practice where forgiveness is everything! It eluded me. And, in a way, it still kinda does. But, I’m working on it. Honest.


Monday, 18 October 2010

"The Medium is the Message" for Twitter, too!

Several years ago, a professor of mine told our class: “The last word on anything hasn’t been said.” That stuck. Clearly. Occasionally, I think of that sage statement and tell myself that that would explain the plethora of views on any given topic – on any given Sunday.

Enter mine, about Facebook and Twitter. (I'm thinking, I might have a two-parter on my hands.) Now, before the yawns and ho-hums, bear with me as I explore what must be a like-dislike interest I have in both. They are both social networking sites – no argument there. But, as one top tweet observed, funny how social networking sites seem to make us more anti-social. So, we talk to each other but we don’t really talk; and sometimes - especially with Twitter, it's not necessarily to each other. It’s more like ‘at each other’. I’ve found, given my recentish immersion into Twitter – and I know it’s not too soon to tell – that quite a lot of tweets from individuals are spurts of opinions/observations/comments about a topic. Once in a while, there’s a tweet to (or @) someone, in a reply. Sometimes it's sharing via ReTweet. The majority, though, are those that betray…no, let’s use exhibit a kind of random stream of consciousness that makes its way into a 140-character post. I've noticed that many companies/organizations tweet, too. That should give an indication that the facility is relied upon as a communications and marketing tool.

(Now, at this juncture, some would begin to wonder whether they should take any of what I’m saying with a grain of salt. I say yes, indeed! At worst, shrug it off and move on to the next topic of interest and the myriad tweets. At best, trust, but verify. Much of this is from my own observation, anyway, and has little to do with my MA in Communication. Perhaps the desire to look more closely through my often-preferred trope of metaphor, has indeed been touched by formal training.)

So, here's the thing, as another top tweet pointed out about Twitter, people are constantly talking to strangers. It’s not so much the novelty of that idea, it’s the fact that the strangers are from all over! (Have I heard of satellite radio? Yes. But, think about it. Isn't it imaginable that the rate of subscription to SatRad eats the dust of Twitter's subscription rate? I'm sure of it.)

To proceed, the idea of novelty is lost when one thinks about an on-air announcer/broadcaster, getting into the minds, hearts and homes of, well, strangers, over a period of time. That's been done. People tune in, they listen, if they like what they hear, they tune in another time - "rinse wash repeat". So, the announcer would be the poster, the listeners the followers, whatever he/she says, the tweets. Sooo, it's alike in that sense.

The points of departure then? For one, the followers get to keep a copy of what was broadcast and, if they “called in”/tweeted in response, they keep a copy of that too. Another is that these updates come in from several sources (all whom you follow) all within seconds. Try getting that done even by SatRad. Maybe I’m slow on the uptake here, but, I haven’t yet learnt of any broadcaster that gives up-to-the-second news/bulletins which the listeners get just a few seconds after and keeps this up 24/7. So, joined by mutual interests and hashtags (#), the broadcaster enters the mind, hearts and homes of those who’ve opted to tune in. This is an important point, because, unlike an on-air feed that you are inevitably tuned into (unless you’re plugged into your hand-held or something) when you’re at a store or the hairdresser or wherever, the broadcast/posts are by choice.

Would it be fair to surmise, then, (and I'm on to another idea here) that every single solitary tweet that you receive is borne out of the decision to be fed by that poster? If so, then it lends itself to the crux of the next question: Is there an underlying messiah complex that begins to take form after one acquires a certain number of followers? Just asking. I honestly wouldn't know - unless I did some research - as about half of my current eight followers are family, and, of the rest, I'm pretty sure two are marketers.

But, how does having a large following impact an individual, or the subsequent postings of that individual, who was (or would otherwise be) not-as-well-known? Does it even? Is that why some tweets come off as "wisdom from the oh so wise one"? Because there are followers who are (probably) hanging on every word? Do they? Sometimes I tweet stuff that would make my sis go, "Okaaaay. Right." Other times, "That's so true." Hmm. Without fail, we write/share from our different frames of reference, experiences and what not. Sometimes, though, you can tell the ones that are overreaching...

Maybe I'm over-thinking it, for, to be honest, I don't read every single tweet from those I follow. Still, even the term "follower", lends itself to this leader-follower duality, so I really can't be that far off base. That duality is certainly touched by the medium of choice (Twitter) and, according to Marshall McLuhan is the message: "The medium is the message" because it is the "medium that shapes and controls the scale and form of human association and action."

So, the fact that I tweet or I'm on Twitter, or however else it's articulated, communicates an intrinsic message in and of itself. (Not tweeting? Well, I never! I don't speak to people who don't tweet!) There is also an intuitive understanding of how the participants should (or should not) associate and interact with each other.

McLuhan was right on the ball, too, when he coined, "Invention is mother of necessity." So many things are now needed - online social networking etiquette; policies; leglislation. Read, just today, an article refering to Thompson Reuters and its decision to ban anonymous comments citing "legal risk" etc.

I shall continue this like-dislike interest, I imagine. My take at this point? If it's working for you, keep it going. Define working? Meets your needs and/or the purposes for which you indulge.

If not, don't take a trip to where the guilt is if you wish to hop off this train. Leave - guilt-free - the microcosm that is Twitter and join the other billions of people on the planet for whom satisfaction to express observations and communicate with others is derived through dozens of other non-Twitter ways.

Next up, why I was on Facebook but not on Facebook.

Her space :-) Happy Birthday to my niece. All of two today!!! You are my sunshine... la la la la la.

Several years ago while living in the USA, I took a trip to visit a friend in New York City. (New York, New York - city so nice they named it twice:-) Anyway, we decided to do some last stop shopping - on the way out (she was gonna find her way back home). I parked about two blocks away from the store, fed the meter for an hour, and we were off. After about forty-five minutes, I noticed the time and beckoned to my friend...oh yes! My lil sis was there as well. So, I beckoned to them both that we'd have to finish up 'cause the cashier lines weren't all that short. My friend decided to stay on a while and so sis and I practically high-tailed it out of there! It was now a mad rush trying to beat the meter. All I could think about was getting a ticket and how much I didn't want to get a ticket! It was about two minutes to expiration and by this time we were running down the sidewalk, past the stores that had set up 'sidewalk sales' when, the next thing I knew, I bounced right into her!

She was a little girl, no more than five, could be six. And there she stood with her ice-cream cone ice-creamless! She looked down at it, then up at her mom who was walking just ahead. She'd stopped and turned when I'd stopped and flashed me a look like I was something horrible. I apologised to her profusely and sincerely but briefly. I still couldn't get the pending expiration out of my mind - no ticket under my windscreen wiper, please! And I hurried off.

We made it before the expiration but I felt like crap. And every time since then that I remember how I knocked off a little girl's ice-cream from her cone, that feeling comes over me. Of course there were more mature, less selfish actions I could have taken in that moment. But I didn't. What I did do, however, was learn one of my life's biggest lessons. In a moment when I knowingly offend someone, I try to do the right and selfless thing. Even if it feels difficult.

For I absolutely detest that other feeling.


Friday, 8 October 2010

Don't stay out of it!

I read a newspaper column the other day in which the writer made a subtle reference to one of the then topical issues. In doing so, she couched it within a context that clearly indicated her leaning. So, clear context, subtle reference. I'd say more than a few of her readers got it.

So much so that, in my comment (as Cee Dubya) below the column, I made my not-so-subtle reference to her not-so-subtle reference. And someone spotted mine and so on.

What I was a tad put off by, however, was one of the comments that advised her to steer clear of making an input in the matter; not to be "caught up" in the debate and have her say.

Now, I just figured the author, Barbara Gloudon or Miss G, (as she is sometimes affectionately called - other times maybe Ms. B etc.) is mature and street wise and, in short has been around long enough not to have paid the poster any mind. I mean, after all, she is a writer - a columnist, to boot! Why would she hold back her thoughts about an issue, if she had something to say and the opportunity to say it?

Pretty soon, though, I realized why I was on about it so much; why I had given so much thought to a seemingly trivial thing. The reason was this: Anger - the healthy kind. See, I recognized some time ago the rather sad truth that many people would "put themselves out there" were it not for fear. It is a crippling fear that convinces you that the critics and cynics and naysayers are going to come raining dissent and scorn and ridicule upon your expressions; that it's better to just save yourself the agony, don't cause any problems and instead of confrontation, run! So, even before you begin to speak, you are silenced by angst and anticipation of the worst. And, very soon, the choice to "stay out of it" becomes less difficult with each opportunity to make a unique and meaningful input.

Here's the thing (Monk), the truth is, "we live in a cynical world" as Jerry said. (Yes, he "had me at hello", too.) Heck, I'm just now beginning to realize that I've added a dash or two of cynicism to a number of scenarios. I've had to take a step back and go, "Is this me?" Always, the answer comes back, Yup! Guess I've simply learned to look through other lens now. Point? There will be critics and cynics and editors and censors and apologists and nincompoops and people-who-may-mean-well-but-for-the-life-of-them-give-really-bad-advice. I heard my father with this saying a long time ago (when there was a minor home accident or something) and it stuck: "Never mind. The first hundred years are the hardest." OK. So I was about to highlight the point. And it's this: say what you have to say without fear - not even a little bit. Don't stay out of it! Provisos? Engage brain and mind before opening mouth. In some cases, you might need to open mouth, remove foot, engage brain and mind then proceed.

But, for the sake of your sense of self and sanity, don't clam up just because you're fearful that somebody might disagree with what you've said or might try to tear it apart. People are people wherever you go (I always say) and folks from the above list are always going to be around in some shape, form or hue. Perhaps no one, except the Lord Himself, may know from whence your strong points or passionate arguments come. But, be brave enough to express them and prepared enough to defend them - if necessary.

And I know about clamming up! About five or six years ago I wrote a book. It was not a big book, but, a book none-the-less. I've seen books with less than 50 pages, less than 20 pages, even. They tell their stories and that's that. Well, my book was running near 150 pages. I'm mentioning the pages because, at first, I thought a book doesn't really qualify to be called a book unless it has a decent number of pages. Yes, I clearly had a lot to learn; many myths to debunk.

The title of the book was...is, "I'm not an American, but I live here". It had a sub-title, but that'll do for now. It captured the essence of the lessons and new things I'd learnt in my journey from Jamaica to the USofA. My experiences were neatly packaged in this little book that I hoped would be enlightening, entertaining and inspiring. Well, I sent it to a couple of family members, a cousin, a friend, a professor at my alma mater and a former columnist for one of the major newspapers in Jamaica who was, at the time, a professor at another university.

As you might imagine, the responses from my family, relative and friend were more favourable than the others. The main criticism from the professors was that I needed to identify my audience. To whom was I telling the story? The book wasn't ready for publication, then. It was good criticism. But the 'not ready' stuck with me more than the 'ID audience' part. I don't think I've picked it up since receiving the critique. And, I feel, that I've disappointed not only myself, but also family members who might have had hopes of me finishing the thing. I imagine, however, given my new zeal and no-fear, no-doubt resolve, I will be re-visiting that project - and that right early. It will be published one way or another.

And that's why I feel so strongly about putting yourself out there. Especially as a writer, you just gotta be prepared for the sharks and wolves and whatnot. I just think that some people don't speak up or write because of fear of what others might say. What if it doesn't sound intelligent enough; witty enough; well-read enough; "in" (with the in-crowd) enough; oratorical enough and all that jazz? Well, what if it doesn't? Does it mean that you will always be concealing your opinion or take on everything?

But, then again, what if it does?

Jump in. Add your say. Be a part of the vibrant exchange. You'd be amazed and delighted at the wonderful things you begin to notice about the world around you. About yourself.

I was just about ten metres away from the revolving doors, as I made my way to my building the other day. Just as I crossed at the lights, I saw another guy coming from my right, talking on his cell. He paused in conversation to holler at this guy, just ahead of me, leaning against a column, "Pablo!" Now, Pablo looked like an immigrant - Mexican, to be honest - mid-forties. Maybe I latched on to that nationality because of, well, "Pablo!" Anyway, I saw Pablo quickly end his own cell conversation, snap the phone shut and hurried to catch up to the first guy, who had by now, almost disappeared back around the corner where I'd spotted him just seconds before.

One of the first thoughts that entered my mind was, maybe Pablo is just getting a break - some degree of "hustling" and connections paying off at last. It just looked that way. Toronto is a pretty big city of approx 2.6M with a high percentage of immigrants. It was possible!

Just as they left my peripheral vision, I saw three guys (looked Caucasian), maybe early fifties, sitting in the patio area of a nearby café, having their morning coffee. Clad in hard hats and the proper construction attire, I surmised that they were on break from the massive multi-million dollar construction project taking place across the street (the hard hat one was wearing had the name of the project management company on it). They didn't look hurried or edgy or like they were 'hustling' at all. And I know that different people are at different points in their different lives. And I do believe that people make choices and they should be ready to face the rewards/consequences of those choices.

It's just that, for that moment, there was a juxtaposition of two very different worlds. And, for an-even-now-unexplained reason, it made me feel sad. In that instant, I got why there are those who commit their lives and resources to advocate for the marginalized and oppressed. It moved from "Pablo!" - cause I really don't know his situation; it moved from the construction workers - cause I don't know theirs, either - to the larger matter of disparity.

For, after all, Pablo's world seemed very different from mine, too.


Tuesday, 28 September 2010

Taking the Twitter plunge

Life, as I’ve known it, has changed. Not in a dramatically dark- or light-complected way. Small steps taken over the past couple of weeks have produced myriad ripples. And, in a few instances, waves. It’s change I can handle (thank God). Not the kind that “blindsides you on some idle Tuesday.” Oh look! It’s Tuesday. Ok, deep breath…and…exhale.

I got up this morning, as I tweeted, “[Seeing] a world in a grain of sand and #heaven in a wild flower.” I imagined it would have been a beautiful day – and it has been! I’ll share more anon, but, ok, ok, ok. One hint: It concerns my job that I so enjoy!

So I’ve plunged into the Twittersphere. Do you know how I came to know I’ve taken the plunge and am now riding the waves? No, it’s not that I’ve been tweeting a few times a day from two tweets in 2009 (what remained after I erroneously deleted a few other tweets) to 50-something in a couple of weeks. It’s not because I’ve had to sit to concentrate on attaining brevity to respond to a tweet or two, nor is it because I’ve had to watch the time for my gym appointment go by (not to meet up with anyone, just the time I was aiming for) because I was just not getting up to go through the door. (Yes, I’ve got Twitter for BB, but sometimes you just have to sit down and concentrate on getting the magnitude and multiplicity of your thoughts into 140 characters or less. Seriously, Twitter? Seriously? Who came up with that figure, anyway? Why not a nice round 200? Two hundred is nice and round – not square, not triangular and awkward, nice and round. So, this 140 thing has got me itching for rounding up but, anyway. Come to think of it, this conversation must’ve taken place before. I couldn’t possibly be the first at it.) So, no, it’s not because of any of those things. I think I knew for sure that I’d taken the plunge when, on awaking in the wee hours of this morning, before my regular wake-up time to start getting ready for work, I found myself…OK, I decided to concentrate on getting my must-tweet-this-response thoughts into 140 characters or less, in response to someone who, I dunno, just doesn’t seem to have attained the (clearly elusive) hang of connecting dots within, and therefore make for, a stream of logic in a conversation. I mean, I’ve long ago heard the saying, “Don’t try to have a battle of wits with someone who is unarmed.” Ne’er a truer word could have been applied to this…this…this… scenario.

That’s how I knew.

Now, I find that the thoughts that would normally run through my head are now being snatched, looked over and evaluated: Twitter worthy? Nah! Ok. We’ll just wait …Ah! Another! How about this one? Still no? Shoot. Unless, perhaps, we tweak it a bit. There! Drat! It’s 161 characters! Ugh! Change ‘the’ to ‘d’; ‘exchange’ to ‘xchng’ (I hope these people KNOW that I CAN spell. Sigh. So, some thoughts …make that most of my tweets (not the RTs, clearly) are not hot off the trying-vehemently-to-reduce-characters brain. Some actually go through that earlier-mentioned process. I mean, could I really just tweet the first thing I type? Ooooh. I dunnooo. (Insert hand-wringing here.) Needless to say, in the very early stages, I’d end up tweeting then deleting then tweeting again (not the same as retweeting…don’t ask!) then deleting. Then when I got it just right-ish, I let it go. Again. And exhaled.

That’s how come so many of one tweet ended up on my Facebook page. Yup! I’d linked them all, remember? So, even though I’d delete from my Twitter page, fb still clung to them like prized possessions. SMH. But, I learned to just sort out the whole thing and tweet once! Especially the replies. Can’t really mess with those ‘cause then I’d just be giving the impression that I’m not ready to respond. And if not, why tweet it? It’s like, it was there a minute ago! Oh! Here it is again – but there’s a comma missing…

I find that I tweet the stuff that I’d make a quick call about to my lil sis - @mizdurie. But, we still talk and text, so, we’re still good. And she’s following me (she’d better!) so we occasionally link there as well.

But the serious stuff. Why the heck do some folks feel that there is an anointed responsibility to play to the followers and utter man-squatting-on-the-mountain-top-esque “sound bites”? Ugh! If their interest is in more than one area, it kind of explains why they have followers. But, when, in a certain area, they cannot hold a decent conversation – fallacious arguments, dodging the counter points, making it crystal clear that the logos (as in ethos/pathos/logos) has left ‘em hanging, it grates on my very nerves. And I don’t like getting annoyed with strangers. I just don’t. It diminishes me - or, I feel diminished in some John Donne way. The bright side? Like the switch on the radio – unfollow! What? Your radio doesn’t have an ‘unfollow’ switch? Get out!

I’ve been thinking of starting this section as an extended footnote or something. Would like to identify/highlight situations in which I’ve found myself responding in an intensely emotional way, to even the seemingly mundane or trivial. It could be a random act of kindness… as a matter of fact, that’s where I’d like to start.

Last week, having taken the plunge (before I knew – for sure – that I’d taken the plunge), I decided to follow a few folks. (I’ve noticed that most people with an extraordinary amount of followers only follow a few – but, I digress.) I decided to follow @marciaforbes and, wouldn’t you know it? She gave me a warm welcome, intro to a few of her followers (only thing missing was the red carpet) plus a bit of encouragement that they should start following me. All I could muster was “Awww.” Of course I replied ( I think I actually deleted the first one and tweeted again…) Anyway, I replied and thanked her. And soon after, I moved from two followers to five! Hey, Rome…day… And who’s trying to build Rome, anyway? Just doing my own thing; creating my own productions. (Couldn’t resist.)

And how did that make me feel? That kind gesture made me feel good. Simply, good. Like, I put my hand out there, and someone reached out and held it.

Marcia, thanks!


Saturday, 18 September 2010

Profile updates - preceding the story

Recently, I linked my Twitter account, to this blog and to my Facebook page. To me, this was the logical step, given my new thrust into maintaining presence in the online social networks - for the most part.

Followed, then, that I updated the bio on Twitter; started following a couple more Tweeters (to start) and began giving some serious thought to what I wanted to share in these networks.

There's the story a-lurking in the back of my mind. Actually, I've brought it to the fore and shared it with lil sis. She thinks I should "hurry up and write it."

All this writing and (self-imposed) obligation is keeping me disciplined.

And I need that. For, it has started to "hurt bad enough."


Wednesday, 8 September 2010

Don't look now, but, you're being followed!

What’s that feeling you get when you get your first follower on Twitter? Is it a rather sinking feeling of added responsibility? Like, yeah, just great. Now I gotta write something brilliant and intelligent and insightful… Yet another MOU – Morally Obligated to Update… Or, is it a feeling of a different kind?

And what if you’re really not in the mood to update but you simply feel you must. For, what’s the point of having a Twitter account if you aren’t tweeting regularly? So, note to brain: Try working up something near genius to put into 140 characters or less. (CHARACTERS! Oh the art of brevity.)

Alas, you give in to the (very self-induced) pressure and convince yourself that at least one person gives a hoot that you’re painting your nails metallic blue. (Heeeyyy! It looks good on you!) ‘Cause, I mean, people tweet for all kinds of reasons, and if building your own brand (your-name-here Inc.) and marketing your skills blah blah blah isn’t your reason for using Twitter, then, relax, put your feet up – blue painted nails and all – and tweet to your heart’s content (in 140 characters or less).

Oh! What’s that saying, double negative aside? “Just because you’re paranoid, doesn’t mean they’re not after you.”

Enjoy being followed!


Saturday, 28 August 2010


Depending on what we set out to do, and how much doing it, (and the result of doing it) mean to us, we tend to feel a bit queasy. I know it's not just me. (Right?)

Well, so it is with my writing. I set out to do it; do it, then wonder about the after-effects as soon as it takes flight and becomes subject to the "reader's interpretation". Each stage offers up its own degree of anxiety, but I imagine it's that last bit that offers up the most.

I wrote a letter to the Editors of the two main newspapers in Jamaica two days ago. Essentially, I tried to get folks to focus on the possibility that their online profiles might be doing them more harm than good.

The butterflies were flying in V-formation. I wrote my full name, inhaled, exhaled, acknowledged the possibility of rejection (again!) said a quick prayer and hit "submit". No hiding behind my pseudonym "Cee Dubya". Just sent it. Out there.

The Jamaica Gleaner published it as the "Letter of the Day" today! Last time I checked, it was 'recommended' and 'liked' - someone referred to it as an "excellent article." (Thank you!)

And, to boot, what a memorable way to mark the second anniversary of this blog!


Wednesday, 18 August 2010

The battle...

...of the bulge has begun!

And, I'm going to win!



Sunday, 8 August 2010

Where are my feelings centred?

I don't know.

Close(r) to 40 and still not sure.

Quite an adventure...!!!


Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Where does the time go?

I wonder. I, like you, spend every second of every day doing something deemed important. Yet, after about a month or so, it seems like it's hard to tell how it was really used.

It's not about counting the years, they say. It's about making the years count.

True, that. Even - and especially - for the seconds.

They add up.


Sunday, 18 July 2010

Summer time

And I'm loving it.

It's not just the fact that it's summer; it's the fact that it's summer and it's actually pretty warm and my parents are visiting. So, it feels like home without my having to spend hundreds of dollars on plane fare.

Tee hee.


Thursday, 8 July 2010

"How does a person get to be that way?"

I'm not sure what triggered my move to check Roger Ebert's review of a particular movie. Come to think of it, I'm not even sure of the name of the movie right now, but, that's an aside. What I AM sure of, is that I hit upon a link to Ebert's blog and, well, the next thing you know, I was being drawn into a simply warm, engaging and beautiful piece of writing. The title of the top-most entry caught my eye: "How do they get to be that way?"

See, years ago I read for my degree in English. (They probably should have named the B.A. degree after the name of the department - Literatures in English. Way cool. Anyhow, I digress.) One of the required texts was "Annie John" by Jamaica Kincaid. Of all the lines and quotes and what not in that text, the one that had always stood out for me was this: "How does a person get to be that way?"

Since then, I've used it at every precious opportunity. Precious because, well, thankfully, they have been few and far apart. For there are times, indeed, when you can only shake your head in amazement, as you seriously ponder the phenomenon which you have the pain (usually pain) of beholding. At those times, I simply think it - sometimes out loud. I articulate it to no one in particular and try to situate the world back on its axis.

Of course, occasionally, I, too, am reminded that, well, how should I put this? Stteo, the world doesn't revolve around me. Not everything nor everybody will acquiesce to my every want. (Oh well.) I resort to thinking of how came I to this place? (Another (less-used) bit from "Annie John"?) And, in pretty short order, the answer comes. A quick glance and reflection - usually in chunks - over my close-to-forty years and the answer is clear. I came to this place by virtue of the fact that I have been becoming the me that I am today from the get go. It's all about the journey and the choices I made - and continue to make. For e.g., I chose, from an early age, to make Jesus Christ the centre of my life. That right there explains a humongous amount of the who, what and how I am. I choose to be neat - my place, though small - must be tidy and look, as Mommy says sometimes, "presentable." And, ooh, I dunno how much of it is Monk - the one I love for several reasons, but, least of which is not that I so totally identify with some of his preferences... We shall call them that.

So, when I stumbled (refreshingly) upon Ebert's title, I immediately got to reading. And the more I read, the more I thought about not only mentioning him, and that entry, in this blog, but also about making a link from my blog to his. Now that'd be a first.

While I ponder that, do enjoy Ebert's entry.


Monday, 28 June 2010

Easy, Breezy Summer Evening

It kinda feels like the summer that it is. It's a little after 10:00PM and I still have the door to the balcony open. I have a lovely view from this here 16th floor - lake, and lights - all the way to Hamilton, it seems :-)

Got in this afternoon after a dreary day at work. It wasn't about work. It was about how drained and de-energized I felt getting in this morning. I fell asleep pretty late last night and the day had been pretty taxing, too. Discovered a new park and all. The sweltering warmth and humidity of the morning didn't help. Then there was the left-over mental drag of the horrors of the G20-related protests that went awry in Toronto over the weekend.

By the time I got to lunch, I was pooped, man! Definitely more concerned about finding a spot to get some shut eye. But, I resisted; told myself only a few more hours to go and set out to get some drywall screws. Another story.

One veggie dog later, I was back at work, getting a few things done.

At long last, it was time to leave. Hit the street to Union, all the while thinking about two things: getting my freebie smoothie (matcha!) and catching the next train. Funny, but the very day I was rushing, was the day a newbie prepared my freebie. Took a about two minutes longer than usual - I even encouraged her to ask for help! I caught the train.

Once home, I washed up a bit and hit the sack. I was out for about 3 hours!

So, yeah. Definitely enjoying this lovely, easy, breezy summer evening now. Because I can.


Friday, 18 June 2010

Today is a better day!

I'm all smiles as I write this because, it's not so much that today is a good day? It's more so that yesterday was a wonderful day!!!

What, pray tell, could have brought on this episode of ecstasy? Well, no less than the fact that I applied for my job! :-) Too funny.

I have been working, since January 2010, in a new agency - within the government of Ontario - under contract. The contract has since been renewed. Joyfully, however, the position was advertised as a permanent one about two weeks ago. There are four in all to be had - three perm and one temp (12-month).

Taking nothing for granted - not the fact that my immediate as well as senior managers have constantly praised my work; not the fact that they have copied other members of senior management while doing so; not the fact that colleagues have shared with me what they have heard about me from senior managers nor the fact that I was the second Advisor hired in this position and have been working hard - I worked long and hard, with nuff prayers, on the application. I submitted it yesterday and it did indeed feel like a load off my shoulders. Thank You God!

Apparently, too, I was right in my approach. Someone mentioned to me that just because we (three of us) now occupy these positions, does it mean that they will automatically be given to us.

Hmm. Communications, Public Relations, Outreach and Education. As Monk would say, "It's what I do - and I'm good at it." :-)


Tuesday, 8 June 2010

While we are at it

We continue to be focused on the war against crime in Ja. I maintain that while we are at it, and as we give thought to the new policies and practices that must be implemented, we must not overlook the matter of thorough accountability. This, even from persons who are, or will be, at the helm of watchdog institutions.

In a recent letter to the editor, I expressed this concern. The editor opted for it to remain unpublished. I did not.


June 1, 2010

"The Editor, Sir:

I came upon an article that was recently published in The Globe and Mail and I was left shaking my head in amazement. Quite recently, amidst, and, perhaps to some extent, motivated by the new “war on crime”, there have been calls for “a few good men and women” to rise to the occasion” and take up certain positions of leadership; men and women in whom the public can, with assurance, repose its trust. The call has gone out primarily for individuals who would be elected to these positions. These trustworthy, hardworking and integrity-filled persons would therefore be the privileged few to occupy the Lower House and (if many get their wish for them to be elected as well) those of the Upper House.

While we make this call, perhaps we might also give thought to ensuring that the individuals who occupy the leadership positions of our public offices/agencies/boards/bodies are similarly outfitted with the requisite abilities and virtues. Yes. Virtues. For, while we undoubtedly hold many of our present crop of public leaders in high esteem, what would be helpful as we undertake this corporate and prolonged introspection as a nation, is to give serious thought to these requirements as we move forward. This, not only for the sake of accountability and the interest of the taxpayer, but also to keep the moral authority of the public office-holder sound. It is no secret that it is nigh improbable to repair a damaged reputation when the damage has been self-imposed.

Consider the case of the Ombudsman of Ontario who is seeking a third term. He has won the admiration of many Ontarians, to the delight of whom he has “exposed misuses of government power, pointing out shortfalls in the province’s property-assessment and career-colleges systems that harmed citizens or allowed a private few to benefit.” The Ombudsman’s website provides information on the investigations that have been completed; speeches that are true testimonies to the scathing and, oft times, vitriolic rebuke that he metes out to the offending (Gov of Ontario) ministry.

Yet, as the G&M puts it, he has been “tripped up by an inconvenient penchant for charging apparently private expenses…” Whereas the amounts in question may have been deemed rather insignificant, the Ombudsman, being “Ontario’s watchdog” has a special responsibility. He, along with others with others in similar oversight positions, cannot get away with a do-as-I-say-but-not-as-I-do approach. The G&M reports that the Ombudsman “misused the powers of his own office, with little accountability at all, essentially approving many of his own expenses. His moral authority as the public’s crusader and protector has been compromised.” He contends that the spending was legitimate but that doesn’t seem to be cutting it.

Of course, there are those who will come out swinging and shouting from the roof tops that the real issue is being overlooked here; that the real issue is the empowerment of these oversight bodies – to give them ‘teeth’ - so they can, in real terms, help to stem the tide of corruption; that we should stop trying to undermine those who have demonstrated the courage to take up thankless jobs that require a strong spine, broad shoulders and thick skins. But that doesn’t make this issue any less real, does it? Surely, even with the above being true, there is still room to carry out the necessary checks and balances. For example, is there proper legislative control to prevent/stop inappropriate expensing? And we are not talking only about personal expensing but, as well, lavish and wasteful expenses to modernize their offices, to keep-up-with-the-corporate-Joneses, and enhance their comfort at work. These cannot be the very same individuals who reprimand and rebuke other agencies for wasting taxpayers’ money.

Until this issue is also seriously considered, then the roof-top cries for ‘teeth’ are only “full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.”

I am, etc.,

Cee Dubya"


Friday, 28 May 2010

Time enough

Made a comment on this article in the Jamaica Observer on Wednesday (May 26, 2010) - as Cee Dubya. Even at this time of writing, things are still tense. But, there will come better days.

"Someone described yesterday’s sitting of Parliament - apparently one of unusual civility. No raucous spat-filled behaviour? What gives?
Perhaps the understanding, (which was already held by … almost everybody else, really) that this war on crime is not about Party but rather what’s best for Jamaica, is finally sinking in?
Could it be that persons are now feeling a bit anxious or sopm, what with PMBG reportedly being referred to as a “criminal affiliate” by the US gov? I imagine that, after all is said and done, a lot more will be said - one way or another. And who would be prepared to go down alone?
What’s that saying again? “Just because you’re paranoid doesn’t mean they aren’t after you.”
Whatever the deal, let it sink in. Good must come of this. It won’t be overnight, but even time takes time.
(Btw, more responsible journalism at work here than that ABC report: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/05/26/world/americas/26jamaica.html?scp=2&sq=jamaica&st=cse)"



Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Outlook: Sunshine!

My favourite flower is the sunflower. I decided that sometime after seeing the movie, "Calendar Girls". For one, the poem was lovely. For two, it represents and totally reminds me of my favourite color - yellow - as well as my general outlook: Bright!

Recently, I've taken to the colour purple and, on many occasions, red. But, yellow has been at the top since early childhood.

So, I got a few artificial sunflowers the other day. And they do look lovely sitting there on my dining table.

They also remind me, now, of my very apt pet name for my niece: Sunshine. 'Cause she's just that.

In just a few days she will be here - joined by her parents, of course! I'm about to grow from one to four.

Sign of an abundance of rain and things to come!!! TYG!


Sunday, 9 May 2010

This Means War!

Yesterday had me at a very enlightening all-day governance seminar. Got in pooped and totally missed the 8th. Hmm.

Wrote a letter to the Editor of one of Jamaica's newspapers on Friday. Haven't seen it in their publication yet. Well, here it is:

"We are drowning, drowning, drowning in our own blood! We are choking on it; slipping and sliding in it; washing it off our streets and houses and the writing is on the wall in it. When I think of Jamaica, I see red. I’m not even getting into blaming. I’m just looking at where we are and we are in a sad state.

Neither the Minister, nor the Prime Minister, has a clue about how to solve this problem – not one single solitary clue! You can tell from their silence and from their baffled countenances and by how much they are MIA. We have new committees and plans being created to address the problem, even before former committees and plans have a chance to come out from under the dust and chi chi.

It has reached a stage now where the news is not really news. It’s just a matter of who and where. Every time we think it can’t get any worse, the next newscast proves us wrong. We are sick and tired of it and sick and tired of being sick and tired of it man! What is this round-the-clock killing machine that seems to be impenetrable and unstoppable? And while it has its tentacles all over the island, stabbing our people and shooting our people and strangling our people to death, the rest of us are left wondering who is in charge? Who is in charge, Mr. Editor? And what in God’s name are they waiting on to do something?!

Here’s a suggestion. It may smack of simplicity, and may even be repetitive but, just in case the government is sleeping, please nudge them awake to the fact that WE ARE AT WAR! Where else but in a war-torn country do we have so many hundreds of murders in such a short time? People are being shot and stabbed and slashed to death - the real count must now be close to 700 – and the army hasn’t yet been called out? What if we were under attack from another country and our country’s murder toll stood at 600? A so we woulda jus siddung an watch we fellow Jamaicans a drop like flies and nuh call out the army? Mr. Minister and Prime Minister and whosoever else is in charge? We are at war!!! 600 in four months? This means war!!!

There are those who have the power to do something but they are not doing what needs to be done. No one wants to bell the cat. What is this? We are praying for God to intervene, but did He not give us wisdom and ability? We must do our part. “Trust in God but lock your car.” Remember that declaration that the Prime Minister made in Parliament in the first week of March this year? “If I have to pay a political price for it I will.” He was talking about something else but wouldn’t it be wonderful if he and the other ministers held that resolve for all aspects of their jobs? Especially for this aspect of the job?

Part of the government’s duty is to protect its citizens, is it not? For crying out loud, isn’t it for situations like this that our soldiers have been trained? It is the situation necessitates it; the difference might be that no overseas travel is required. PM? Minister? What, exactly, are you waiting for? I just don’t get it. Do you have a target murder toll in mind? Each person is one too many and sometimes it’s four or five at a time.

Some might say it’s a knee-jerk reaction. I say it’s bound to be a more effective move than placing more police officers and an additional police post or two in certain areas. Let the gunmen and other criminals see and know that we mean business. Get the army marksmen/women on the roofs; get the soldiers out into the nitty gritty of the communities all over the country (for the criminals might want to run to another area when things get hot in one location). They are not Bin Laden. This must help to weed out at least some of them. I don’t know what the intricacies of this plan would be but, I am pretty convinced that it would make the law abiding citizens of the country feel safer; feel as if somebody gives a hoot. Mr. Editor? I submit that we have been invaded by another country! It’s a ‘parallel country’ of criminals who are under their own governance and whose ‘insecurity forces’ are bent on securing their own rotten interests by the use of advanced weaponry and by terrorizing our country. It’s time we call out our security forces before the murder toll exceeds an already-unbearable number. Worst case, even if it is a knee-jerk, at least it’s something while the government works on a longer-term strategy.

On a related note, my sister threw a dash of reality on the matter the other day when she said that even if the government says yes to Capital Punishment, who are they going to execute? The police not catching the criminals! They commit these crimes in broad daylight sometimes and, after the weeping and wailing and officials appearing on the scene to offer condolences – nothing! How many times do we hear of the criminals being caught, much less brought to justice? How many?

Maybe it’s just me but I am beginning to get the sense that when crimes like the recent Glendevon or Backlands killings happen, and the police (as sadly expected) don’t get any information from the community, that is where it stops. It’s as if the police throw their hands up and chalk it up to the community being tight-lipped. Where does it go from there? What happens in terms of investigation and follow-through? Is that really where it ends? Do they close that file and then just wait on the call to the next crime scene?

It is constantly repeated, people are afraid of informing the police. But, like someone said the other day, withholding information doesn’t guarantee anything. It is no insurance against the criminals coming for you. They’re just not coming for you today. So, we the people need to start talking to trustworthy police (that’s another issue altogether) and the police definitely need to start following through. Government, army, police, communities – this is not a one-sided thing, but the leaders need to show up and lead.

Let’s not kid ourselves, we are at war!"



Wednesday, 28 April 2010


I'm writing this entry for my mother. I shall be sending the link to my blog to her - the first recipient. There's a country song by someone whom I don't recall just now. Anyway, the line I like is: "And my mom is still my biggest fan."

Celebrated my birthday on the 16th of this month. Spent a few days with family in Ja. Ah! Life. Gotta love it!

Mommy, enjoy!


Sunday, 18 April 2010

Thursday, 8 April 2010

Of joy and sadness

My sis sent me her 'old' BlackBerry yesterday. It's in excellent condition and I really appreciated getting it - and told her so. Mine, an older version, was quite literally falling apart.

So, once I got some help figuring out where to put the chip - yes, I'm pretty tech savvy but it WAS that hidden - I was on my way!

I learnt this morning that three of Xena's puppies passed between yesterday and this morning. Drat. I...It just makes me a bit sad when I hear such news about the pups. But, I take heart in knowing that, even though I am not there to add my bit of care, my dad and mom are taking great care of them.

Stuff happens.


Sunday, 28 March 2010

Here am I

The University wrote. I got the letter - last Friday.

I thank God for the times when He says, "No, my love."

He knows the plans He has for me, and, I gotta recognize when something I desire is not a part of them. And that's OK.

He knows where He wants me to get to and the way He wants me to get there. (Sometimes it's not necessarily the route I'd had in mind.) My energy is redirected for the journey that continues.

I am about the Abrahamic "Here am I" obedience.

Btw, here are excerpts from what I had written:


written by


for the

Program Admissions Committee

The Department of Adult Education and Counselling Psychology
Adult Education and Community Development program
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto

in partial fulfillment of the application for candidacy in the Ph.D. program:

“Workplace Learning and Social Change”

November 2009

“The last word on anything hasn’t been said,” a former professor of mine, Dr. Donna Kowal, once stated during one of our spirited seminar discussions. Here I am, desirous of adding to the conversation about Workplace Learning and Social Change, convinced that I, too, can make a meaningful contribution. It is my intention, if given this opportunity, to examine the concept of the learning organization as I try to appropriate it within the broader social trend of globalization and organizational restructuring.

Whither the organization in the sea of social change and the inevitable impact on workplace learning? My very first thought on this was that the organization has to learn a few things itself. How can the organization learn to identify, value and maximise the contributions made by internationally-qualified newcomers to Canada?

Before I go further, however, kindly permit me to introduce myself. My name is Claudia ____. I am Jamaican by birth and recently adopted Canada as my new home. Over the past few years, I have been thinking seriously about pursuing a degree at the doctoral level. The time has come. In engaging in research for the Ph.D., I would have achieved one of my main personal academic goals. In addition, making this move – and completing the journey in an excellent way – would also serve to inspire, not only my immediate family, but also onlookers who may be on a similar path, though several steps behind.

... The decision to commit to a Ph.D. program at the University of Toronto, and, specifically, OISE, was not a difficult one. It was influenced by factors such as location and flexibility (I intend to maintain a work schedule).... The most influential factor, however, was the breadth and frankness of faculty members’ contribution to this conversation. I desire, very much, to be a part of that conversation! I believe this unique program at the OISE/UT will build on my strong university foundation — B.A. in English and M.A. in Communication — and be critical in helping me achieve my objective, through stirring academic exchange.

“The path of least resistance makes men and rivers crooked,” the saying goes. The journey to this decision has been fraught with challenging, albeit, productive and rewarding learning experiences. It has become clear, (hindsight is always 20/20), that those experiences will certainly inform this particular area of study. I have gleaned much from working in several capacities in Jamaica, the United States of America and Canada; working while studying (and graduating with honours); working in both the public and private sectors and, as well, being unemployed.

I believe that there are differing perspectives about the concept of workplace learning. Sure, there is the almost spontaneous response of examining training within the workplace/organization. Consider, too, the effects of the dynamics of social change as they are brought to bear on organizational policies and programs regarding learning in the workplace. However, I imagine that the organization, as a living organism, needs to successfully play the role of learner as well.

In 1993, Watkins and Marsick observed that “Organizations are part of social complex systems,” and the relationships with “their direct customers and suppliers have an immediate impact on when, how, and what organizations learn” (p.11). They are also impacted by societies’ imposed regulations and economic challenges as well as employees’ “family and sociocultural systems of which they are a part … the people and institutions with whom they are joined, and the values that have influenced their development. Learning at each level is increasingly collective and interdependent.” In order for the organization to thrive and remain competitive within such a system, (to coin a phrase): “Every organization can learn; every organization must learn.”

At present, I work with _____ . The Ministries’ Diversity and Inclusion Strategic Plan is designed to, among other things, “embed diversity objectives and outcomes in OPS policies, programs and services” and “respond to the needs of a diverse population.” At the very least, “responding to the needs of a diverse population”, requires organizations — not only within the public sector — to assume the role of learner. In many ways, this (not so new) paradigm shift is heavily impacted by “waves of social change”. By that I mean the simultaneous movements of the collective thought and modus operandi of people across the globe; across all disciplines, with increased connectivity via the ubiquitous worldwide web and other technologies. Several years ago I overheard someone say: “Geography is now history.” How true. This means that societies — individuals, family structures and organizations — have had to do much rethinking in assessing their own values against those of “others” that come to be thrust upon them.

Does creativity and value pass the organization by, just because it hasn’t yet learned how to appropriate and maximize the contribution made by others? How does the organization become a true learning organization, and to what end?


It is my intention, upon completion of this program, to continue to serve in Public Sector management. However, I intend to speak from a far more influential position, in helping to shape organizational policies toward valuing and maximizing the experience and input of “others”.

I look forward to continuing this conversation as a Ph.D. candidate in the program Workplace Learning and Social Change at OISE/UT. Kindly permit me to thank you for your time in reviewing my application. I do appreciate the enormity of the task in which you are now engaged.





Thursday, 18 March 2010

I have wings! (Cee Dubya)

A former co-worker gave me a postcard shortly before we part ways in 2004. On the cover is a cartoon depiction of a girl in a swing, reaching up, hair blowing in the wind. The caption reads: "She always knew she could fly..." On the inside: "...the question remained, "How high?""

Love that.

(Of course, I still have the card.)

I remembered all this the other day after we'd had quite an exciting Saturday morning - March 13, 2010. My little sis telephoned me and greeted me with stteo: "Congratulations! Your letter to the Editor is the Letter of the Day!!!" Well! I could hardly utter a coherent sentence. I had to tap each key, rather slowly, to type the URL. When I finally got to it, there it was: My letter - a thing of beauty.

We went over it again and then some. We analyzed why the Editor had made the "corrections"/amendments he had; why he had omitted a section of a paragraph as well as the very last line ("Maybe he is trying to protect you," she offered). I called Mommy and asked her to get a copy of The Gleaner with my letter of the day in it. She did. And they - she and Daddy - read it again.

My other sisters offered their congrats and support, too. Yes. It was, truly, one of the best days of my life.

For, you see, as I reminded my lil sis, it was encouraging to me as a suffocating writer. She has a sense of how daunted I feel under the weight of knowing that I am a writer but not writing what I should. It's like I mention in the title and sub-title of another blog: The Vital Air: When you're suffocating, all you can think about is breathing.

I am yet to write my book(s). I don't want to go to my grave with it (them) inside me.
I am yet to write the book with Daddy - worse yet.

So, it's been kinda like that. (See very first entry in this blog.) And then, one day, someone thought that what I had written was worth publishing - and worth the distinction, to boot!

My prayer was short: Oh God, thank you for my wings!

Below is a copy of my letter to the Editor of the Jamaican newspaper, The Gleaner. I used the email associated with my pen name, Cee Dubya.

Sidney Bristow was right. "There's no drug like adrenaline!"


The Editor, Sir:

When we appoint certain people to be "entrusted with the responsibility to lead the State's anti-corruption, law-enforcement and prosecutorial institutions" (a quote borrowed from another paper), what are the measures that we put in place to ensure that they are up to the mark, and keep up to the mark, in every way, as they carry out their duties?

Apart from periodic reports - which can say anything you want them to - what do we do to make sure that in every nook and cranny, things are being done in acceptable ways? Sure there are audits, but, again, don't you wonder sometimes how some things get 'overlooked'?

As so many have said, repeatedly, Jamaica has sunk into a rather horrific abyss. The taxpayers would welcome suitable persons in whom to repose their trust. However, when we appoint someone in Jamaica to a position of almost unrestrained power - doesn't matter who it is - we have to remember that that person is human. He or she, like anyone else, has to deal with personal demons. There may be psychological or emotional shortcomings which, as we know, are not usually indicated on a résumé or highlighted during an interview or even have been demonstrated in a 'less powerful' job. Being in a position where he or she doesn't have to answer to anyone, per se, is a pretty powerful one. As Lord Acton said in a letter to Bishop Mandel Creighton in 1887: "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men are almost always bad men."

Hope is not a method

Does this mean that we leave these positions of almost unlimited power unfilled because each man/woman has his/her set of weaknesses? Do we throw our hands up, appoint someone who seems to fit the bill, and then hope for the best? Again, hope is not a method.

It's a different take on the whole thing, but, I submit that while we look around for these positions of power to be filled, for the best woman or man to be "entrusted with the responsibility to lead the State's anti-corruption, law-enforcement and prosecutorial institutions", we also institute some kind of mandatory psychological (and other relevant) evaluation to assure ourselves that the incumbent remains fit for the job - in every way! No set date, either. Between a year and 18 months, with no more notice than a day or two, the evaluation is done and the taxpayers get to hear the final result. No. This is not to evaluate them to determine sainthood. But, certainly, however it is crafted, it should help to determine whether power is going to the head, and possibly leading to some 'can't touch dis!' behaviour.

Real transparency

Consider the yet-to-be created Independent Commission of Investigations to be led by a commissioner - pretty powerful position. Generally, those are regarded as 'what I say, goes' positions. But, every public position is answerable to someone and, ultimately, the country's taxpayers. A palatable pronouncement is one thing. Behind the closed doors of the organisation, what is taking place and how? Intrusive? Lack of trust? Perhaps, but, we're talking about real, real transparency. Nothing to hinder the work, just enough to keep us assured.

So, it's not just about who is watching the watchman. Deeper still, are we keeping track of whether he or she is embracing delusions of grandeur under the weight of the powerful position? Who questions him/her? Do media even bother? Listen, danger ahead when people in powerful positions become 'media darlings'. The media only become conduits of messages and clearly lose objectivity as they are essentially dictated to, as they dare not carry out 'investigative journalism' which might topple the status quo. And if the media do get wind that something has gone awry, again, do they bother, or do they just leave it be, because everything else seems to be working and 'no better nuh deh a John shop'?

Things like reports and audits do not necessarily capture, for example, the hell of a milieu to which employees are sometimes subjected, as they endure the psychological and emotional onslaughts borne out of the psychological and mental delusions from occupying an 'almighty' position.

I am, etc.,




Monday, 8 March 2010

Vitamins and puppies

There’s something delightfully refreshing about ...wait for it ... taking your vitamins! Wish it were far more exciting than that. :-)

Thing is, you get that feeling that you’re doing something you ought to; something that contributes to your well-being.

I resumed taking my vits yesterday. Also resumed taking the Calcium tabs. The effect of the Cal tabs are, perhaps, a bit delayed. However, the vits are already kicking in!

Btw, feeing that travel bug again. Would love to go visit with family in April, life spared. Another very important reason? I want Tara’s and Xena’s puppies to get to know me! LOL! Imagine visiting much later in the year, only to be greeted by growls and barks.

I don’t think so.