The Secret World of Arrietty

I’m not sure why my son was inspired to see this movie… I’m guessing the TV marketing did it.  Whatever the case, he convinced me to take him to see it at the theater.  His mother had earlier declined going to see it–usually she’s up for kid’s animated movies, but asian animations, not so much.  As we walked up to the theater, I noticed other parents with same aged children as my son.  My daughter had declined as well (perhaps is seemed too childish for someone as mature as she thinks she is).

During the movie, The Disney logo (and anything Disney-like) only appear in the beginning credits.  Beyond that, you’d never know the movie had anything to do with the Mouse House.

Weeks before the movies release, I recall my sister-in-law mentioning something about the story, “The Borrowers.”  I think she’s read them as a child.  I don’t think there was hardly a book to be found that she hadn’t read as a child.  As the movies website indicates, “The Secret World of Arrietty,” an animated adventure based on Mary Norton’s acclaimed children’s book series “The Borrowers.”

It immediately reminded me of a Saturday morning cartoon from DIC called, The Littles.  The premise was similar in that little people live among normal sized people, but I think they were more like elves (or at least they had pointy ears).  And I was also reminded of Stewart Little, but he was a mouse, I think.

It was refreshing to see something different than the usual Pixar styled animation, but as I’ve seen before in anime, the story was less resolved towards the end, proving to be less predictable, somewhat ambiguous, and leaving the viewer uncertain.  My son commented to me that the movie had  a sad ending.  I suggested it was otherwise… and afterwards each of us saw the other’s point.

Since seeing the movie, my son hasn’t said much about it… certainly it was enjoyable enough… but not enough to drive his imagination for days afterwards.


Thanks God for windy days… and those things we cannot see

Much of my free time as a boy was spent riding my bike all over the neighborhood.  There was a few neighbors who thought my brother and I were hooligans on our bicycles.  Some of them were bold enough to say so.

Being hooligans, rain or shine, summer or snow, my brother and I would ride our bikes in nearly every type of weather.  Pretty much anytime, day or night,  we would pedal those thangs all over the place.

Riding into a strong head wind was about the only condition where I actually hated bike riding.  A tail wind was great fun as it seemed like we could coast forever, but inevitably, we’d always have to ride back against the wind to get home.  For some reason, riding into a wind just sucked the joy out of bike riding.  So much effort expended seemed to take us almost no where.  After riding in the wind for a while, our hands and faces would be freezing–this would just add frustration to an already burdensome experience.

Growing up, I can only remember flying a kite once or twice, and it was in early elementary school.  I don’t even recall owning a kite, so when I did fly one, it probably belonged to a friend.  On a windy day, a kite could be an interesting thing.  Anything less, like a breeze, made kite flying into more of a running type of experience.  That was annoying because while a person is running they can’t even get a good view of the kite he’s trying to fly.

This last Christmas was far from the beautiful white Christmas many might sing about.  Calgary gets occasional warm winds, Chinooks, that blow through town and usually melt away the snow.  Since my family was hosting Christmas at our place, and our usual tobogan hill was missing all traces of snow, my daughter and I headed off to the hobby store to get some kites (just incase the adults has “just about enough” of the kids and sent them outside to play).  I figured if the opportunity presented itself, then the kids and I might try flying some kites.  Drat, the kids were too well behaved–we didn’t get exiled outside, and we didn’t end up needing those kites.

So a few weeks later my son, Justin, and I ended up trying out one of the kites.  He’d never flown one before, and it had been decades since I’d done it.  So off we went to the local soccer park to give it a go.

The day was perfect–nice and windy (the kind of day you might avoid riding a bike).  After working at flying and steering (if one actually steers a kite), it wasn’t log before we had the kite fully extended on all the string from the spool.  Both of us seemed to have a good time doing something unusual (or at least different from playing video games).  At times, we seemed to be in control, and other times the wind took the kite in ways we certainly didn’t expect.  Sure, the kite crashed a few times, but in my mind, it was a successful venture!

While we were flying the kite, I was reminded about wind being like faith.  Someone once said that faith is believing in things unseen,  and in Hebrews 11, faith is described as evidence of things unseen.   And recalling a Billy Graham audio clip speaking about how he could not see the wind, but we could see the effects of the wind.  So it also seems with God, although I cannot certainly don’t see Him (at least in the way we see others), I certainly see evidence of His work in my life, and how He effects me (and the world around me).

Imagining Venice

Friday was my last day or work.  Two weeks before I had resigned my position.  Like in the movies or TV, I spent five minutes packing up my stuff into a box.  I had only worked with DIRTT for six months–not enough time to get thoroughly nested yet.  DIRTT was also the kind of place where people’s workspace was limited in the amount of “stuff” we could accumulate.  For me, that was a good thing–some crazed minimalists  might suggest I lean towards office hoarding.  If you ever saw the movie Fletch, you might remember Chevy Chase’s desk–mine has never looked that bad, but it’s been close.

During my first week at DIRTT, one of my assignments was to fix the quality issue with the Xerox Phaser (a waxed based printer that basically melts crayon blocks onto paper to create color copies or print jobs).  This printer was out of warranty, so rather than call the Xerox repair guy, I was entrusted to troubleshoot it myself.  During my diagnosis, and with helpful instructions from the internet, I printed many pictures–the kind that would test the full range of colors.  On Google Images I found pictures of sunsets and scenic images of Venice at dusk.  My best efforts to fix the printer ended up in vain, and eventually the professional was called in to service the unit.

Once the printer issues were resolved, I was left with my paper gallery of Venice.  Most of it was recycled, but a couple decent prints became long-term scenery for my workspace.  I’ve never been to Venice, nor Italy.  It certainly isn’t the place I plan to go anytime soon… economics dictate otherwise.  Besides, I figure the kids will find a Disney theme park far more interesting than a historic gem from the Renascence.

So, for the last six months, I’ve been left to occasionally  imagine my evening stroll along the canals in Venice.  I’ve pondered the smells, the sounds, the music, and wondered if pasta dishes taste that much better in Italy.

Remembering my thoughts, imagining Venice from my office chair, were pretty much inspired by a simple photo post seen here…  Imagine.  On her blog, Christine Sternfels asks “What would be left to the imagination if you were already in paradise?”  For me, right now, Venice and Italy are left to my imagination, and perhaps some distant bucket list.  Though, it makes me wonder if I ever visit there one day, if the real Venice will live up to my imaginary strolls.

Deserted Island

Before I started writing this piece, I thought I was going to write about being stuck on a desert island.  As I began my writing process, it occurred that I might have chosen the wrong word.  Did I actually mean a deserted island?  It wouldn’t be the first time I had chosen a wrong words–nor will it be my last.

I also didn’t want to leave an impression on my wife that I would rather be stuck in a tropical paradise with other people, not including her.  The island I was trying to portray was something more… LOST-like, but without all the crazy stuff (only what I’d heard since I only ever watched the first episode).

Upon Google defining both desert and deserted island, my friends at Wikipedia indicate that both are indeed   “A desert island or uninhabited island is an island that has yet to be (or is not currently) populated by humans.”  This was exactly what I was attempting to describe…  basically stuck in the ocean (kind of like Tom Hanks in Cast Away).  This desert island post stems from a discussion with two great coworkers at my beloved Purple Prison, GaoRong and Coralie.

(In my own experience) Friends seldom become coworkers, and friends that do, typically don’t remain friends after laboring together.  Most coworkers remain coworkers–fused into a “professional” relation by place, position, and situation.  Other coworkers end up as adversaries–too bad for them because life is too short for that kind of conflict.  Occasionally, a few select coworkers gel together and actually become friends in the workplace.  This last group is the ones that often make work enjoyable (and more bearable).

Gel-ing coworkers can often  have goofy conversation about work, popular culture, personal experience, and life in general.  These friendships are typified by a genuine interest in each others’ lives.  Really great friends at work can even discuss politics, religion, and another forbidden topic that I can’t seem to recall (I think it was sex, but since I haven’t anything too interesting to mention about that, we’ll it’s never been an issue).

While wondering about those three forbidden topics, I ended up Googling this article from  40 Topics You Can’t Discuss At Work  Wow!  Take away all 40 of these topics and some people might have nothing much to discuss… My own new favorites from their list include…

  • (10)  The progress, or lack thereof, of your therapy   (if I could afford therapy, I think that I would want to talk about it.)
  • (11)   Your blog URL  (this seems obvious, considering my topic today)
  • (29)   The state of your undergarments (never even crossed my mind, that’s a good one.  What about ripping the crouch of my pants at work?  Does that count?  Because “that” actually happened last week!  Breezy!  Too much said?)

The fact someone actually took the time to articulate these 40 things makes me worried about the average worker’s ability to use their discretion *sigh*

I know amongst my friends at work, sometimes the conversation turns to kidding.  Occasionally this kidding involves silly ways we tease each other, and sometimes the teasing can get into cutting or sarcasm.  Sometimes this goes too far, so much so, that  when a person, like me, is trying to give a real compliment, it doesn’t get taken seriously.

In one such conversations, to get my point across and demonstrate I was being genuine,  I suggested that if I had to pick only ten co-workers to be stuck on a deserted island with, both of these coworkers would be in my list of ten.  My point of this statement was to indicate that each coworker was the type of person that I would want with me in that hypothetical circumstance.

And truthfully, both GaoRong and Coralie are the type of co-workers that would make my list of top ten islanders to be stuck with on my imaginary island.  This isn’t to say they’d be perfect island-mates, or that we never experienced a personal spat before, but rather that despite the good and the bad, they are stand-up people, the kind I would prefer to have with me in a rough patch.

So thinking about my hypothetical deserted island, what would you say about your own coworkers?  And what would your coworkers say about you?  What defines the kind of person that each of us would want with us in just such a situation?

Thinking about GaoRong and Coralie …  Why would I want them there with me?

  • Sense of humor (and the ability to laugh at oneself).
  • Transparency (the ability to really be yourself, and to not worry about people seeing the “real you”).
  • Sensitivity (good friends are attune to what’s going on).
  • Empathy (Maybe the grind of our Purple Prison has naturally brought us together).
  • Common Interests (music, popular culture, personal experience).
  • Diversity (different life experience, an interest to learn from each other).
  • Trust (not worrying that anyone will be getting “thrown under the bus”, and heaven forbid it happens, knowing there’s forgiveness afterwards).

Last Friday was a good reminder about why I picked GaoRong and Coralie to be my island mates:  Thanks to both of them for staying late to help me with all 28 international packages despite being finished (and permitted to go home)… you two are the best!

So in the scheme of things, where you work, would your coworkers be stuck on a deserted island with, or without you?  Why do you think that is?

Day Dreaming of Simpler Times

Do you recall simpler times?

While working late on Friday night at the Purple Prison, another self-imposed craziness, an old Payola$ song started playing on Jack FM.  It was the end-of-shift and I was wrapping things up by myself.  Usually, I’m very focused on the job at hand, but amidst the music I found myself daydreaming.

Listen Here – You’re The Only One – by the Payola$

My mind was transported back in time to simpler days–Summertime, hanging out with friends around a picnic table in the heat of August sunshine.  Imagine those blue skies, laced with fluffy white clouds, being surrounded by trees, and feeling gravel crunch under foot.

There we were, finishing lunch (likely KFC), listening to songs on the radio, and not a care in the world.  Later, playing games in the park, drinking up the sunshine, and running with boundless energy–where did all that energy go?

In those carefree hours, how could my friends and I know ever the little taste of heaven we had?  Unbeknownst to us, we lived so simply–no bills, no dependents, no worries, and no looming concerns to preoccupy our thoughts or dreams.

Even relationships, and the whole matter of love, seemed simpler in those sun drenched days of summer.  Love was new, allusive, and mysterious.  Much later in life, experience slowly revealed love’s complexity and its full ranges of emotion.

Like the lyrics in the song say,

I’ve finally found what I meant to
Now my face is filled with laughter
Soon I’ll be gone
then I’ll be dreaming about you

Sure enough, much later in life, triggered by an old song on the radio, I find myself dreaming about [then].