More beginnings

It was probably for the best that I was already vegan, a shiny new one, on April 28, 2013, the day a friend had chosen for us to go watch the premiere of “The Ghosts in Our Machine.” Had I still been a pre-vegan, in the grip of apathy and hopelessness regarding all things to do with social justice or animal rights, the film would’ve been more painful to watch than it turned out to be, simply because of the acute embarrassment bordering on shame that found a nest in my gut as Jo-Anne McArthur delivered line after line of simple, self-evident, powerful truths. 

The memory of the invitation is fresh: my wonderful friend sent a link and suggested that “Ghosts” should be really good. I read the info and sketched a basic impression of what the film might portray, and decided that it would be the typical bleeding heart feel-good piece seen here and there: a worthwhile effort, but hardly special. 

I truly had no idea. My eyes had only begun to open, even as a longtime (on and off) vegetarian recently turned vegan.

“The Ghosts in Our Machine” changed my life. Jo-Anne’s comment “dairy is one of the cruelest industries” was a body blow, a gut kick, because of the many years I spent weakly rationalizing and justifying my consumption of some animal products. (The nonsense was of this type, which I expect is typical: “since it’s not necessary to kill the cow in order to get the milk, then cheese is acceptable”; “eggs are totally fine because hens lay them anyway.”)

I experienced an intensely emotional response to the compassion,love, commitment and strength that the film shows, as well as the suffering and outrage at what humanity continues to inflict on those who are most defenseless. When the Toronto Pig Save portion rolled on screen and we watched the dedicated rabble-rousers on Lake Shore Blvd., I was sold. I didn’t simply think “Hey! That could be me doing that.” I actually felt more: “Hey! That should be me!” I joined Toronto Pig Save and a few months later and also started helping with vegan education outreach in public settings. 

I owe a huge debt to those who motivated me to finally stop participating in the exploitation of animals, to star taking an active part in helping others stop as well, and to take a step in finding my voice, long silenced. Liz Marshall and Jo-Anne, and the entire film crew: thank you. Toronto Pig Save and all others working towards the abolition of animal exploitation: thank you for showing us newbies the way and for being so welcoming.

And to my wonderful, beautiful friend: You were the original spark, the best example of boundless compassion and hope against all odds, and you continue to inspire me. Thank you.

 

Beginnings

This here weblog, as the kids used to say, is a first attempt at an outlet for thoughts and perhaps ideas. You see, I suffer from permanent writer’s block. It is my hope that putting these words out for no one/the whole world to read might somehow help to undo or at least weaken this dam that holds back the stream. Whether the stream becomes a torrent or remains a tranquil little creek is beyond the observable at the moment, but that in itself is part of the adventure.

How to start? First, the title: it refers to a photograph of planet Earth taken from very far away by the space probe Voyager 1; it shows the Earth as a barely there dot floating in space. It’s important because it illustrated how tiny and therefore fragile we are. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pale_Blue_Dot)

palebluedot

 

To keep things simple for now, it seems appropriate that I follow a friend’s example and do something usually dismissed most casually: one of those chain emails/posts asking us for random bits of info.

Here’s 25 tidbits about me, in no particular order other than how they came up:

1. I’m a terrible typist. Instead of grading my typing in words per minute, might as well grade it in errors per line.
2. Sundays fill me with dread: the impending end of temporary freedom from most obligations, but also a result of always-on-sunday household cleanup when growing up.
3. I must have a mild death wish, for skydiving and a trip to orbit are on the to-do list (don’t call it a bucket list — yet).
4. I’m a Luddite techie or a techie Luddite, whichever fits best.
5. Most of my friends are serious believers in something metaphysical or ‘spiritual,’ but definitely not in traditional religion.
6. I am still to meet someone who can close one eye at a time effortlessly. I can do it with either eye.
7. In grade 4, teacher made me take part in the annual oratory competition. Memorizing the speech was easy. Standing in front of everyone, trying to speak? It was terrifying.
8. I decided Catholicism was not for me at age 10. at 12, I decided no religion would work and no god was extant. I’ve been an atheist since.
9. My anniversary philosophy: birthdays because everyone should get one special day a year, and one-year celebrations, such as New Year’s or solstices/equinoxes, because those are a celebration of us all on this rock.
10. Becoming vegan has been indecently easy, probably because I put it off for a long time.
11. When I was 6 I had the most incredible dream: the night sky was alive, full of colour and motion, events unfolding, energy on display. I woke up and felt sad that it was just a dream. I’ve been waiting for something to happen up there ever since.
12. I’ve been an amateur astronomer for a long time, but only got a real telescope at age 24 (there was no money previously). Later a more serious telescope followed. The move to Canada forced me to leave both behind.
13. It’s infuriating to see science fiction and fantasy always lumped together. In the strongest possible sense, I object. The are very different categories.
14. This heavy science fiction fan has never attended a SF convention. Why? Too much fantasy and comic books and commercial elements are on display, not enough actual science fiction is on offer.
15. I lived my whole life in the Sonoran Desert, which lies entirely within the states of Sonora (Mexico) and Arizona (U.S.), until I came to Canada in 2011. Everyone wonders how I cope with the cold.
16. My internal body temperature must be set to high: I get hot a lot more easily than I get cold. I’m usually the last to start wearing any sort of second layer as winter approaches. Yes, I make fun of the locals.
17. After wearing contacts for 12 years and with ugly thick glasses the only alternative, LASIK surgery was a no-brainer investment, even if the actual surgery turned out to be the most painful one minute of my life.
18. I played vet once: Our tomcat came back one day with serious bites and injuries. He survived, but his tail didn’t: he had a gash at the very base of the tail and it dried up — died. One day I snipped it with big
scissors. (It wasn’t painful as the tissue was truly dead.)
19. I’m not much of a watersports type. My idea of outdoors fun leans more to dry: shady trails (day) and big open spaces (night).
20. Carl Sagan was close to qualifying as my real-life hero.
21. I don’t actually like coffee, but can’t do without a daily huge espresso-based drink (home-made, natch).
22. In 363 days I’ll admit failure: failure to keep a promise to myself that I’d be a polyglot by age 40. I remain stubbornly bilingual only. Is it possible to learn two languages in the next year? Sure (Italian and
Portuguese would be relatively easy) but how likely?
23. Thinking of the friends who became family, I knew early on that they would. I just knew.
24. At first, I usually dislike new music even from artists I already like — then a few plays later it’s the best thing ever.
25. “Good morning,” “Good night,” “Good _____ ” are not usually in my vocabulary. I find them too traditional, too formal. People must think me rude.