...And I am moving!

Honorable Mention: My Photography 101

Ever since I was a kid and started burning eggs while learning how to cook food, I realized I truly enjoyed doing creative works. As such, and finally, 15+ years later I decided to try my hand at photography. As luck would have it I got a Canon A-series camera a few
years ago as a birthday gift. For those who do not know, the Canon A-series are known for having a lot of manual options for the price. They are pretty straight to the point and although you would not  utter their name in the same sentence along DSLRs,  one cannot deny that for a budget camera and if you want to stay away from dumb-proof-yet-boring point and shoots, they about the best option you can have.

I remember I took some nice shots with that camera. Then it stolen. Sadly during a move, the bag my camera was in *disappeared* from within my moving truck. A call to the moving company proved fruitless.

A few years ago, I managed to save enough to buy a new camera, another Canon, this time an A640. A 10 megapixel camera which again like my previous camera was heavy on the manual options. So I stated shooting again. I would have to say some really nice pics came out of that. You can see them here on my Flickr! Which I am very proud off! Specially since my camera just stopped working and I do not think it is financially feasible to send it back to Canon for repairs.

BUT! Before the camera died, I was able to take a few more shots which I did enter in the City of Toronto Photography contest, and was able to earn a Honorary Mention for my work. Although monetarily speaking I get squat, I am truly proud to have been honored and that is proof that at least, photographically speaking, I am not burning eggs anymore.

My Paintings (Part II)

This is one of my first *real* paintings where I actually tried to convey a message. The 'Sandman' is a piece where the observer might not be sure at what exactly they are looking at. Whether it is a wineglass or a hourglass, a surreal bowler hat adds to the anthropomorphic work and asks to be open to interpretation. In one, it might be a glass of red wine while if the latter, the contents of the hourglass seem to be spilling onto the ethereal.

All of the paintings are done in watercolor as I find the medium interesting and most importantly, fun. The idea of creating has always been a pleasure of mine and painting is merely another tool, a gateway in which to let some of those ideas that linger inside all of us a path into the real world.

I used to be more into poetry when I was young (read: early 20's) heck, I ended up writing over 50+ poems! Some of he later, non-romantic ones have found their way in here but for the most part, I have kept it a poem-free zone as I tend to cringe when I read blogs which are 100% poetry. However I am thinking of putting some of the best ones up, you know just for kicks. As I have been feeling pretty creative in the last couple of weeks. Not only through painting but through some more serious matters which will eventually be making their way up here. So until then, feel free to ponder and give your two cents on the painting.

My Paintings (Part I)

A few weeks ago, I attended a star-studded and relatively new European Film Festival held in the glorious...well, actually my ancient-locally-owned independent movie theater about twenty minutes from my house... and on top of that, the screenings were free. So...maybe it was not all that but you really couldn't go wrong with that.

Anyway, one of the last flicks I saw was a pseudo-historical tale called El Greco (PS:. You can watch the movie for free off from that link) that's based on the actual life of, El Greco --one of the most influential painters of the western world, and no, I did not make that up. Which reminded me of exactly how bad my paintings are however, since I have never claimed to be in the same league and I love doing them --did I mention that painting can also relieve stress?

So, I decided to keep on going. I find it to be an excellent hobby which is useful as a 'stream of consciousness' exercise that preps your mind and focuses it into the right frame for any other creative projects. With that said, this little work over here is called 'One Tree Hill.' I know, I know, no pivotal proverbial peek into the human condition. Although I have been told, if you look closely at the blue sky lines above where they meet the red sunset that you can actually make out the shape of fishes on a stream. Personally, I do not see it but hey, the more seriously people take me 'dashing' on canvases, the closer I am to one day selling one. *I hope*

Fightin' Stress -- Paint Through It!

Stress comes in many forms and sizes. It is part of life and for some out there it happens more often than with others. People handle it differently, depending on the subject in question. I once knew someone who lost their home, separated from their wife and got laid off work, all within the same month, sounds like the start of a feel-good movie, no? They went into a downward spiral which lasted years. A bit of self-destruction and self-pity never helps anyone. Couldn't blame the man though. Although he finally snapped out of it, I will admit I did no approve of the way he handled it although he is doing better now. However, who am I to judge?

But as inspiration of his tale of woe, I decided to start painting as a way to get out of any gloom or glum that somehow manages to come my way. 'I change is always good,' I say; a change of perspective, a new beginning is something we all need from time to time. A start a new chapter of one's life per se. So I thought of posting some of them in the upcoming posts.

So without any further ado, my first painting ever, 'The Rabbit Hole.' An excellent abstract work in which, if you observe, it perfectly juxtaposes man's ever haunting need for existential relevance and me smearing globs that slimed off the paint lids onto canvas.

Seriously, I seen works like this at the AGO, so you just gotta love art's crazy subjectivism. All I have to do now, is convince their board that it is worth $1359.99! And that I accept Visa and Mastercard.

Little Known Facts In British History (Prt. II)

One of most interesting developments in the Human condition occurred in the small-backwater-town of Enfield, England, just 16.3km from Charing Cross, 18.8km from the London Stone and in case you are an abradant cockney, 18.9km from St. Mary-le-Bow, you dandy city-folk.

In 1810, at age 40, philosopher but mostly part-time cat farmer Meil Sans Bishopsgate had, after living a tremendously menial life come to the realization of his sad menial life and decided to do something about it. Being far too poor to purchase bullets or rope, he decided to make the best of it.

He immersed himself in philosophical study for two years at the Clarke's School in Enfiled, with the set intention of improving the quality of his being or at the very least be able to then afford a bullet or two - the second, in case he missed.

Sans Bishopsgate almost quit his studies mid-way due to the elements and the never ending stream of insults coming from the children who attended the school -although in all fairness, from time to time, the teachers joined in too.

His muse, per-se, was a young and brash tuberculosis ridden boy who beat Bishopsgate to a pulp outside the local pub after a fight broke over the iconic importance of the King James Bible, England's level of abject poverty and Meil having a stupid name. In his memoirs, published for his mother in 1815, Sans Bishopsgate describes the incident in detail and joyfully recalls, 'Damn Keats' boy. Hope he dies soon.'

After finishing his two years of standing outside the window where the philosophy class was taught, a full year of what he called 'staring up at the sky' followed with him to the conclusion that he was perfectly happy in his life. Meil wrote, "Even though, I have yet to taste the pleasures of the flesh, one must wonder, what does the body of a man truly encapsule? His Spirit? His gravitas? Does a man's worth be set upon his receding hair line? Would the tender touch of a woman, nay, the spectacle of her bosom and weaving flocks heaving through the wind from a galloping horse bring peace to an aging man? Am I able to achieve these sights with my bare hands and sheer will?' Sadly, Meil's body was found at his mother's cottage the next morning. Who knew? Sliding off the stairs head first had accomplished what self-illusion and the two bullets encrusted on the wall had not.

In the end, Meil Sans Brishopsgate peeked into the human psyche seventy-three years before Freud and coining the term "Mid-life Crisis" in the last page of his journal. Now, used by men loosing their hair and in desperate attempt of transcendental gratification. For this, he will always be remembered. By the way, that Keats boy ended up becoming one of England's best poets. Go figure.

3000 Member Bash -- We Have To Do This Again!

Who knew? What a great bash it was. Indeed. On May 1st we had a chance for all three social groups to come and socialize under the same large dance floored, pool tabled, patio-ed studded roof! The evening just like most parties start small with most people being fashionably late, after all, no one wants to be the first one at a party, some individuals consider that a bit of a faux pas. Luckily as the Organizer, I had to be there to set the stage just right for the evening and to have a small talk with our Montana's sponsored snacks. Soon, however everyone came in droves!

Thanks to another of our sponsors, JamesVII who kindly donated a few free T-shirts, valued at $127 each, we had a raffle which is something we don't get to do as often as we would like for our members. Plus there were a few random free drinks to the winners of impromptu games played throughout the night. Seriously, I have this is the best way to make events, and I am already thinking to see how we can make larger and even more fun bashes. Later in the night, pool games and dancing ran wild, just the way we like them!

It is interesting to see so many people having fun, and it really has made all these last few years as an event planner seem worth while, leaving me with a desire to do more. Of course it is not all fun and games. There is a bit of planning that goes behind the scenes which are far from hosting a party. Great it would be if it was just all about that.

But a great thanks goes to Moe from Montana's who was the liaison between us and Montana's 2nd. He was quite friendly and flexible. Indeed I wish most locales where like that but that is just part of the game. So what is next for these groups which started as a hobby a few years ago? Well, that is an interesting question, as much fun as it has been, I sometimes wonder if I can keep this up. I already have entrusted one of the groups to an assistant who runs about half the responsibilities of Toronto's Spanish Group and I am about to name a second one for the To23-35 Socials. Am I taking on more of a managing role? Ha, nah. But I would like to have more time for myself although I would like for the groups themselves to grow, even if I am not there anymore. 6000 Member bash? Sure, why not.

So going back to the bash, it was a great time had by all. With over 100 people this is one of the largest parties we have had -- this month-- and I certainly hope our next party is as fun and as pleasurable to host as this one.

Getting To Know Your TTC -- Part 1

It is no secret the TTC is far from perfect and if used extensively, you surely have come to curse it at one point or other; which is a natural response to all Transit Systems, politicians, lawyers, and well, everything actually. However if you are car-less like me, then you know Riding The Rocket is probably the best way to and fro around Toronto's urban jungle.

For my own motives --mostly common sense-- I have always tried living within a token's throw of a subway station. Having grown in the suburbs and commuting then two hours to York University for school pretty much scarred me for life --but my mental state is another post altogether. In the end, unless you have children, are urban-phobic or your mate demands he/she is chauffeured, then the TTC is your best bet.

Escalating fares aside; $109 for a Metropass... Really? SERIOUSLY? Well, rant aside, I guess, I am happy to see they are trying to modernize the system. The newer subway cars will hit the tracks rolling sometime in 2009 and look at 'hem, they might be a nice pimpin' ride. Although that remains to be seen, there is no mention as of when in 2009 the deployment will start and if it does, it will be only on the wealthy line that is Yonge-University... plebbed Bloor-line be dammed! There are other changes like the Transit City project which is basically making lots of Spadina's and St. Clair's right of way streetcar lanes, but that won't be finish until 2021. So, let's just wait on that one for now.

For the time being, one of the best new services provided free of charge are their TTC-eAlerts. Which in our always-on-line generation can be seen as a blessing in disguise. Having been launched on January 14, it has been tested by me and has given its users another perspective of the TTC. The only catch is that at best --with about 10 minutes advance warning-- you might find out of an outage until you are about to head to a station, so "knowing" is not half the battle, as you might not be able to circumvent the issue due to it still being too short notice. Thus you will be hindered, except you are now armed with the knowledge that you will be stuck and left wrestling for shuttle busses or cabs with hundreds of other passengers ahead of time. 

So yes, subway lines go out of service a lot, the most I have seen is four in one day! So if you want to have a daily shot of paranoia as to whether your train breaks down in the middle of a tunnel while someone in your car may or may not be coughing up a lung due to swine flu, this is your ticket!

In the end, it might not save you a headache or that much time or money if you decide to cab it but it will provide you with undeniable written proof you can show to your boss as to why you are late and in my opinion, that's a start. TTC, I salute you.

If you would like to subscribe to the TTC alerts, click here.

Adventures of an Organizer! (2009)

Flash back to circa 2005 -- Who knew? A quick search to find like minds with whom I could practice my fleeing Spanish, would lead to such a great adventure? Indeed, 4 years ago, my Google search led me to a fruitless dead end. There were no Spanish Speaking networks in Toronto! At least not ones wanting to be found easily. Where did Spanish speakers convey then? Shady backrooms accessible only through back way alleys? Where you had to knock 7 times to the rhythm of La Curacha and dance a riff from the Macarena before a doorman suavely said 'Si' and allowed you entry? Seriously, I was at a loss.

Ah, such dichotomy in between the world wide web and the Spanish speaking community in Toronto.
Then the one thing I have learned is, if you can't find something that you need, then well, create it. As such I started a group on Meetup.com. Back then the site had already been at it for a few years and it seemed like the perfect venue. For those not in the know, Meetup allows people to become an organizers and pretty much become an event planner. If people like your group then they join and off you go.

It went well at the beginning and with time I decided to branch out into other areas. Mostly social, since it is my belief that there are never enough ways to meet new people and enlarge one's circle of friends. As such, the Toronto 23-35 and the Toronto 25-40 Social groups came to life about a year later. It seemed easy at first, pick a random pub, send an email to the then 10 members or so and see what would turn out. 'Keep it simple' I used to say.

Well, 334 events later, we are crossing quite the milestones! What started as smalls flower requiring plenty of attention and care have become a weed and is spreading like wildfire! On May 1st, we will having a party to celebrate the 3 group's combined 3130 members! Incredible!

It has been quite the journey, meeting so many interesting people including some very quirky ones. If anything, it was a constant reminder of just how different and alike we all are. Regardless of religion, ethnicity or age, we all found something in common. The underlying desire not to be alone and to share experiences with one another. Some pragmatists would also include dancing and booze but digress it has been well worth it.

Aside the countless friendships, many have found significant others within the hundreds and a few --5 couples, that I know of-- have gone off and even gotten married! You know, its corny but being able to make a positive difference in people's lives is really quite the upper, not to mention Dharma-friendly. Take that, Law Of Attraction!

What will the future hold? Who can tell at this point... but I consider myself, not only I have learned some valuable skills but made some friends who I cherish and count myself as being very lucky to have meet. I am sure, eventually a point will come in which I may not have time to keep them up, but slowly a new generation of people are coming in, helping out as the groups keep on expanding but until then, let the Pachangas go on!

Obama's Lifts Stem Research Ban: Religious Right Applauds!

San Francisco - In a bold move President Obama signed an executive order lifting the ban on stem research instituted back in 2001 by the Bush Administration. The order signed on March 9th is being hailed as 'exciting news' throughout the scientific community as it re-opens the path for possible cures for a myriad of diseases and disorders which affect millions of people, such as Parkinson's, diabetes and cardiac malfunctions, just to name a few. Needless to say this is bound to ignite some fury in partisan groups who see this move as not only a declaration of being in touch with the 21st century but a middle finger to all that is moral in Christian values, like the Crusades.

'We could not be happier," said Cardial John Matthew, 'this is a sign of the times which Christians everywhere should rejoice. We are moving one step closer to Jesus and the Holy Father,' and Cardinal Matthew is not alone, back in the US shouts of exilihartion are being heard in religious quarters most evil, Godless soul-dead non-believers would not expect to hear. 'Obama has really proven to be Satan's lapdog and a harbinger, we could not be happier! It's fabulous! It is obvious the Rapture is a coming soon. From now on he can do anything he might was well he pleases, I am just going to sit on a lawnchair and crack open a Bud. I am going ot heaven, he is not!' added Pastor Ned Haggard, 'By the way, it's with an "N" not a "T."

 A spokeperson for The End Is Now, a Christian interest group in San Francisco whose main mandate is to inform people of the upcoming Doom's Day has hailed the move as imperative to the end of times. 'Steve, one of our members, who was watching the signing on the news swore he heard hoofs of four horses coming from the TV, I am sure he was joking but we were sooo high that afternoon... Who knows? Either way, I will step on the side of caution and believe him. Hey, you aren't going to write the thing about being high on your article, right?'

On the West coast, MSNBC reports 'Supporters of Change' a Pro-Choice group are very optimistic while hailing the unsung heroes, mostly actors and politicians --no one would have cared if a dentist becomes a quadupligic after a horsing accident-- who would had quietly aided the pro-movement on Stem Research had they not gotten sick and paraded stem research to whomever listened. 'They are real heroes, we are just having a party in their behalf on April 1st at Hooter's private party room. If you are coming, we have made arrangements at 7:00pm, remember it's BYOB. It may take a while, but chances are it will saves lives. We are with the Religious right on this one, what does a stem cell look like anyways?'

Editorial: About That Last Post

NOTE: READ PREVIOUS POST FIRST. Stem Research, why are people okay with this? Perhaps in the end, perhaps people are tired of an old parable book telling me to throw sheep off a cliff to clean my sins. Wait that's the old Testament. Okay, New Testament, because it says if someone smacks your cheek then that I should give him the other -- good moral. What a great book! Wait, later it read that if someone hits your cheek to smack him back. Eye for an eye! Are people tired of ancient bi-polarism trying to rule people's daily lives?. The fact is that when it starts saving lives, Religion as a whole will probably just quietly accept it, as no one is disputing the earth is the center of the universe anymore. Food for thought, technically, are you allow to 'refuse' treatment as the Bible says you cannot choose to take your own life which if you refuse treatment isn't that like doing the same? Only God can do that, right? Aha, Religion backpedals itself into vagueness yet again. People might be tired about that. Also because religion per se has nothing to do with this topic, as there is no difference in between killing an embryo which would have been a life than a man masturbating, washing the sheet and killing millions of possible (half) humans. Harsh but a point to think about. Either way, I am sure everyone is going to be waiting to see results.

Hunting Through The Job-o-Sphere

If you swing a cat down a street, chances are you will hit someone looking for a job or someone counting their lucky stars they have one. 'It seems no one feels very safe at the moment,' a friend warned. 'You should feel lucky too.'

Apparently, one can't switch on a TV without fear mongering smacking you in face in the form of news anchors warning you, your neighbour and swinging cats in general of the hole in the mud the economy is right now.

And are we? In a word, yes. It seems we have been face first in it for quite sometime, just didn't know it. Yet even with all these fears, I am still prepping my resume for a excursion into the land of employers.

The word on the street is that for every job posting out there,  Human Resources personnel are getting waist deep in resumes. Not like they did not get swamped before, although metaphorically speaking it seems back then it was only about ankle-deep, and that my friends, was considered business as usual. But not anymore.

So, here I am, typing away. Borrowing ideas from one employers' list of job qualifications and unmercifully pasting them onto my resume. Let's see... One from that job off Monster.ca... another from Workopolis.com and a third off Craigslist, its like cherry picking in July! The idea behind such intellectual borrowing is that in the end, you have filled your resume with exactly what you can do for the employer, which at times is less than what you can actually perform, however one is not here to prove your ego but to prove you can align your strengths to theirs. If you want to apply for a Marketing position and you can also Ethernet their entire office network on top of that, chances are they will not give you the job. As such, delete the Ethernet part, emphasize your MS-Office wizardry 'Look everyone! I too can print in Word!' Thank God for the highly payed government sponsored recruiter who shared that little gold nugget.    

'Tell rather than show.' That is a good piece of advise I picked off  an employment advise website. "Show your accomplishments!' another generic site went on, 'Avoid being like the rest!' Okay, got it! I am so pumped up!

'Don't bore a HR manager with crazy antics' cries another. Uh, alright, so I will use New Times Roman, can't go wrong with the classics, then BOOM, another site demands you use anything but New Times Roman as it is antiquate and old fashioned. 'HR Managers see hundreds of resumes a day, they expect you to be different!' Arrgggh!

Anyone with a pulse will agree of the sheer disgust that is writing your own resume. Akin to a mixture of Chinese water torture and being flambeyed alive; somewhere among those two is in the happy median where the typing and retying your resume resides. It is a necessary evil, of course, 'Or stay in your crappy job then!' is often be the rebuttal of many site and indeed they are right.

Thus I hammer on trying to be distinct... HR managers like that... but not too much, HR managers apparently  that too. Finally, after two hours, I finally extracted the juice out of the words I originally started with. We are talking liquid gold ladies and gentleman. I write yet another cover-letter and press send. Thank God that is over... Oh wait, there are another nineteen job posting to go. DAMN!
Drip. Drip. Drip.