Saturday, April 30, 2011

Hi, Guys!

Yesterday I received a broadcasted email from a cherished friend in Washington, DC. He writes for a generally distinguished audience. In his most recent “blog” he raised the matter of an annoying subject which for years has troubled me as well.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Tabula Rasa

According to our good friends at Wikipedia (the internet “Free Encyclopedia”), Tabula Rasa is the epistemological theory that individuals are born without built-in mental conduct and that their knowledge comes from experience and perception. The term in Latin equates to the English “blank slate” (or more accurately, “erased slate”). In Western philosophy traces of the idea appear as early as the writings of Aristotle, though it went largely unnoticed for 1,000 years. Tabula Rasa is also featured in Sigmund Freud's psychoanalysis. Freud depicted personality traits as being formed by family dynamics (see Oedipus complex, etc.). Freud's theories imply not only that humans lack free will, but also that genetic influences on human personality are minimal. In psychoanalysis, one is largely determined by one's upbringing.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Ashtrays and Non-Ashtrays

Like children many of us even as adults are in the habit of recalling what are often the most inconsequential (and sometimes less than flattering and inconvenient) details of life. It would for example appear to be no large compliment to my first philosophy professor at Glendon Hall that the only thing I recollect from a year of his instruction is him saying, “The world is divided into two things: ash trays and non-ashtrays”. I might add that my professor chain-smoked those preposterously long, slim cigarettes from which he never took more than two puffs before extinguishing it. To this day I marvel that ashtrays then abounded in the small classrooms at university.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Coffee, Anyone?

Today was a Saturday. In preparation for what was to follow, I began the day with several cups of freshly ground Columbian coffee. It was a measure taken to strengthen myself. Within the next twelve hours I drove the car almost five hundred kilometres in and out of the Laurentian mountains. Throughout that time I drank another cup of coffee over lunch, then afterwards two cups of espresso allongé while visiting with friends at their place. Small wonder, while not exactly bouncing off the walls, I am now the furthest from contemplating going to bed.

Au Revoir!

While I am among the first to acknowledge the extraordinary frequency of coincidence in life’s affairs, and the collateral admission that the future is completely unpredictable, unforeseeable and unknowable, there are nonetheless moments which represent significant and seemingly irreversible demarcations.

Friday, April 22, 2011

Beggars Can’t Be Choosers

The well-known and cautionary adage that “Beggars Can’t Be Choosers” no doubt has its foundation in fact though I take considerable pride – perhaps smugly so – in saying that I snap my fingers at its abstract truth or at least that I stand my ground to repel its particular application. I may be kidding myself, and I may live to regret my haughtiness in thinking that I am somehow above the universality of such popular maxims, but my reasons for doing so having nothing whatever to do with superiority.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Slow Going

As the economy continues to limp along, I find myself having less and less to do each day at the office. It even seems that the customary monthly bills have reduced to a trickle though I am sure that perfection is entirely illusory. When the time is long everything appears to slow to a crawl. With Easter weekend in the offing I have all but given up expecting anything whatever in the immediate future.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Risky Business

Yesterday I collected from my optometrist a new pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses, specifically the traditional Wayfarer model made popular many years ago by such people as Tom Cruise in the movie “Risky Business” (though there were many other movie stars and celebrities who sported them as well). Only two years ago while killing time waiting for a plane in the Fort Lauderdale airport I was thrilled to discover a re-invented issue of the Wayfarer model. It was slightly smaller in size than the pair I purchased yesterday, and it was the tortoise shell colour rather than the traditional black plastic which identifies the original larger and heavier style.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Balls in the Air

I have flung open the front oaken door of the office building allowing the cool morning air to spill into the recesses of my business tombs. After a confined winter it is refreshing to exhaust the stale air from the place. The sun is already high in the sky tracking its way over the clock tower into the southwest, beaming its yellow light through the window casements across the multi-coloured rugs. It has to be one of the advantages of a store-front operation that one can harbour the air from one’s own veranda.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Sister’s Birthday Party

This evening’s dinner party in Ottawa was unusual for a number of reasons. Among other things, my sister was hosting her own birthday party. As odd as this might sound at first blush, the truth is that it made a good deal of sense. To begin, my mother is getting too elderly to have to cater family dinner parties any more. In addition it does my parents good to get out of the house for a social event now and again, something different from going to the hospital for yet another check-up or examination. My sister also enjoys show-casing her attractive home especially now that her kitchen has been entirely remodelled at considerable expense.

All of us (we were eleven at table) contributed in one way or another to the evening repast, though my sister and her husband provided the central features of fresh salmon and filet mignon. The guests were, as should be the case for any proper birthday party, a collection of both immediate family and close friends (one of whom most of us hadn’t seen for almost twenty years or more, but the ties remain strong to the day). Balancing the group were people both young (24 years of age) and old (92 years of age), though I calculate the median age to have been 52.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Barque on the Sea

It is odd that those who can least afford the expenditure so often devote incalculable energy to the resistance of the turmoil of life. No doubt the effort though futile is prompted by either the impending sense of defeat or the final opposition to the prospect. One may as well fling oneself upon one’s sword. This is unfortunate for two reasons: first, we are all of us but unimpressive barques upon the sea of hullabaloo that is life; second, there is no indignity in allowing one’s self to be carried upon the tides of turmoil when we have meanwhile applied ourselves as best we can to accomplishment of our modest objectives.