The Logical Philosopher

Monday, August 27, 2007

What's the Hurry?

Dedicated to A year of Living Edwardly.

I sat by the water. Stillness, with the occasional warm breeze blowing in to bring relief from the hot and muggy temperatures. A teasing of a summer shower, slow drop by slow drop. Then, the sun peaking in and out, clear sky moving slowly in from the horizon. Through it all, stillness prevailed. One hour. Two. Then three.

Those from the big city would remark on how still my own town is. “Where’s the traffic? Wheres’ the people? I can only see two Starbucks’s on one street – where are all the other coffee stores? And you have no Ikea!”

Yet I have come accustom to what I now see at bustle. But now, removed from a larger island to a smaller one – population 1000 – the pace has been downshifted another notch.

Don’t you find it odd that the older we get, the more experience we get, the more wisdom we get, the harder it is to put into practice what we already know what we should be doing?

Last April I wrote a 3 part series about the Speed of Slow. Perhaps this will becoming an unofficial part 4. While we all take cruise or Mexico resort vacations –then realizing we need to do it more, I am talking about something different. For those, even in their wisdom, that are unable to break from the pace of their work environment – an action plan is needed.

For the past few years my wife and I have been looking for a recreational property – on a slow paced gulf island. Close enough for a weekend getaway, but few amenities like phone or Internet which would only distract us from taking an actual break. Having it far enough away so “friends” can just “drop in for the afternoon” is also a hidden agenda of our location.

So, based on that, here’s my action plan: The Speed of Slow, Gulf Island Style.


  • Minimum ½ acre island property
  • ferry boat accessible
  • walking distance (with 2 kids) to a public, sandy beach
  • Sandstone bluffs to walk on a plus

    So far all eyes point to Hornby Island, but an exploratory visit to Maine and Galiano may be in the works.

    If you know of anything of interest, let me know. You all have a vested interest because moving to a lifestyle of slow weekends may well increase my writing quality and quantity. Leaving town for 48 hours last time gave me time for 1 long run to the middle of nowhere and a hike to see the spectacular view of the Trincomali Channel, which solidified the need for this post.

    I look forward to your suggestions, as much as I am sure you look forward to the stories the slow travels will bring.

  • Tuesday, August 21, 2007

    Culture et Fasion

    I spent the last week exploring the city of Montreal, learning about Culture, Fashion and how to speak French Canadian. I came to the realization that my grade 11 french didn’t get me far in a conversation, but it did allow me to pickup a few words to understand the direction of the conversation.

    Here’s my top 12 cultural notes I learned about Montreal:

    1) On Kids: Future of the West is the East. Even the kids at McDonalds were fluently switching back between French and English. If this were the west, they would all probably have high ranking Government positions, right out of high school.

    2) On Language: Everyone wears t-shirts with English phrases. I guess the Quebec Language Police haven’t gotten to the t-shirt factories yet. I also found that influence of English on slang is much higher than I thought. For example, I would hear the hip-hop crowd talking to each other: “French French French French what up dawg French French French?”

    3) On Bikers: They are certifiably crazy – and not in a good way. Weaving in and out of Montreal traffic on a beach cruiser, I did not see a single person wearing a helmet for protection. Oh wait, most were wearing only flip-flops for protection, so I guess that is something after all. At least the soles of their feet will be protected when they are dragged along the pavement by the crazy drivers.

    4) On Drivers: I never thought jumping into a cab and saying “follow that cab” could be so dangerous. He did, but almost killed us by running a few red lights and cutting off a car at least every block. I think the driver was jealous that Nascar was in town and he wasn’t driving himself.

    5) On Fashion: the fashion in the east easily eclipses the west. Leaving nothing to the imagination seemed to be the status quo. It made me wonder what the town will be like once the university students join in the foray.

    6) On Women: Francophone women are much hotter than Anglophones… maybe it has to do with the fashion?

    7) On Weather: A 35 degree heat, compounded with a 65% humidity index, makes it incredibly hot. This means under any circumstance your clothes will cling tightly to your sweaty, glistening, body while outside walking for even a block. In itself that is not noteworthy, but take it into account this happens at the same time as the above 2 points.

    8) On Clubbing: Getting into nightclubs is harder than it looks when, at an age of 30, you refuse to tip the bouncer just on principle. However, that is not required if you meet up with some beautiful women dressed in the appropriate Montreal attire that, once they wink their way by the bouncer with “I don’t speak French, so don’t know which line to be in”, adding at the last minute “and those 2 gentlemen are with us” as they are lead past the line directly into the club. Without them, Eduardo and I would still be waiting outside…

    9) On Smoked Meat: It is true – once you have some real Schwartz Smoked Meat, you’ll never go back.

    10) On Pretending to Speak French: If you say Bonjour or Hello (with a French accent) to the waitress, she will talk to you in French and hand you a French menu. This is not necessarily a good thing when you don’t actually speak French. It makes ordering much more difficult…

    11) On Translations: When the guide at the Science Centre gave a 2 to 3 minute introduction to the exhibit we were entering, I didn’t understand anything. When he asked if anyone only spoke English, and I raised my hand, he looked at me and said “No food. No drink. And no picture taking. Any questions?” It seemed like he said a lot more in French. What's up with that?

    12) On Signage: Finally, for once, the sign for the Le Chateau clothing store didn’t look out of place when I walked by it.

    When we travel there are two types of cultures: language and local customs. Being in a location where only one was an issue for me, it gave me a better understanding of what it is like when travelling to a foreign country where both of those are new. For this trip, I was happy I only had one, the language, to worry about.

    While everyone I met did speak English, I did attempt to speak French as much as I could, or at least catch the meaning of the phrases and reply accordingly. What helped was my understanding of the cultural environment of North America. By picking up a few key words in the question or sentence, and pairing it with the social transaction – such as purchasing a drink – I could guess enough to answer yes or no. Although I must admit it really threw me off when one cashier asked something totally different, like “do you have air conditioning in your hotel?”, as she packed my bag. And replying with “No, the receipt in the bag is fine” will bring an awkward moment for all involved.

    Thursday, August 09, 2007

    Moldy Kids

    “I don’t think you’re going to be happy… again. I think we have mold growing in the house.”

    “Ahhh….” I said, as I closed my eyes and sunk back into the couch. “I swear this house will be the end of me. 80 years old and always something to fix, rip out or totally gut and rebuild from scratch.”

    “Look at it,” she said, pointing towards the bathroom, “it’s these weird black flecks that keep sprouting up on the wall, even as high up as on the ceiling!” Some days, I thought, all I want to do is live in a van down by the river. No maintenance, or responsibilities, required. As she pulled me up from the couch and into the bathroom I could see what she was talking about. Over the last month mysterious black specks - like small flat pieces of seaweed, were randomly covering one wall and parts of the ceiling. One day I would scrub them off, only to have them reappear a few days later.

    A few weeks later – after multiple more random black mold episodes – I heard giggling and the sound of squirting water from the bathroom. Little LP was having a bath, so when I peaked in I was rewarded with a stream of water being shot towards me. Not quite quick enough I felt a wet streak go across my shorts. Then, as I looked down at my now dripping shorts, I saw some pea size flecks of the mysterious black mold – now stuck to my clothing. Huh? I thought. How did I get this on me? I looked up and on the wall, were wet dripping streaks of water, with fresh black flecks throughout!

    “Hey dad” he giggled, “check out my new bath game. If I fill up my squeeze bath toy I can shoot these black bits of dirt out!” As I stood there in disbelief he continued on “And you know what? I can even hit the ceiling sometimes!”

    You guessed it – Little LP was my random mold growth generator. By putting dirt in his bath toys he figured out how to mark his shots of accuracy, or inaccuracy in this case. Then, with mom and dad erasing his work of water art every evening, he was given a fresh canvas to work on during his next bath.

    I suspect when you think about it kids really are like mold – you leave them unattended for any period of time in a wet environment and they manage to leave their mark. Leave them long enough and they become a hazard to your health, via the stress of house repairs.