First review!

The first review for How the World Ends.

“If you enjoy reading books that make you ponder for days later–why are we here, what does it mean to have a soul, what is our purpose in life, why does anything matter–then you will probably enjoy the journey this book takes you on.”


Building Trust


I want to put these thoughts in writing so anyone who knows me can know how I feel about building trust.

Trust means never hanging anyone out to dry in an attempt to vilify them in a crisis, even if they are at fault.  Family, friends, colleagues, customers, whoever – nobody deserves to have crap blown back in their face just because one individual felt like being vindictive. 

Trust means meeting a crisis or a time of transition together, as a group, unified. Those times are what community is for, and if I forget that, the community should remind me.

We owe it to each other to build trust every day, and today is no exception.

Building Trust is a core value to the company I work in, and it’s a core value for how I want to live.

more later – joel

What I learned in 2011

It isn’t quite over yet, but I think Dec 23rd, riding home on the train, is a good time to reflect on it.

2011 was a good year. A great year. The kind of year that should stick out for the kind of reasons that don’t usually come about too often.

Do you ever have that feeling that things are just falling into place? Like stuff could have gone either way but it just worked out? I’ve kind of had that feeling ever since I met my wife Jacqueline, but 2011 really cemented that for me. Like the universe and I are on the same page. Like the people I have around me are on the same page, and with a little momentum, moving in the same direction. It feels like good poetry does after it’s clicked with you.

I’ve learned that hard work pays off, and so does patience. And it pays to have great family and friends. And it pays to not try too hard to get paid. It pays to be rich in all the other ways.

I took risks in 2011. I never looked back, only forward. I got burned, but I got tougher, too. I was supported, and I had the ball picked up for me when I dropped it.

These are the kind of things that I will struggle towards forever. I will find the simple poetry in life, and that will lead me home.

More later – joel

Another video for VIMY on YouTube

Chopin in the background, photos and video from rehearsal on November 5th in the foreground.
A few cast and crew were interviewed for this as well.  The music underneath Chopin’s Prelude #15 – “Raindrop Prelude” played by Ivo Janssen.

This kind of thing speaks for itself, but it still pales in comparison to the real deal.

Come and see this thing come alive from Nov 11 – 19.

Greatness is…

I’ve been reading about John McCrae this week in the book “The World of John McCrae”.  It’s not really a biography of his life, but rather an examination of the times he lived through and the kind of man he was.  Both as himself and as he was seen by others.  It’s remarkable.  He was so selfless.  I got the impression that he would have joined up even if he wasn’t a doctor, just to stand next to his fellow soldiers in the trenches and support them as they stood for their country.  But he was a remarkable physician as well.  And a tremendously tender and yet bold writer, as his poetry reveals.

I was led to McCrae not by following his famous poem, but by a reference in the Clare Gass diary about his letter to her about Laurie’s death.  I found it extraordinary how much comfort she took knowing that her lover’s final day was spent with such a man as John McCrae.  How could this be?  What sort of things would he have done to deserve such an honour?
Have you ever met anyone like this?  It’s a person who seems like, even if only for a moment, that they are the centre of the universe and others seem drawn to them.  Others seems to siphon from people like this through an invisible tube that stretches between them.  I think McCrae was like this.  I think his funeral, for some, was the darkest and brightest hour of the Great War.  I hate to call it that, but it is the truth.  
Greatness in men is measured in many ways.  Bravery?  Honesty?  Patriotism?  Love?  Intelligence?  
Greatness in war is measured only in death.  And the war of 1915 to 1918 consumed more greatness than any other war before it.  
This man John McCrae gave his life to the service of others, and for that he was loved greatly.  And for that his heroism in nigh without parallel.

Honesty, integrity… do we really know what this means?

I guess everything is relative, but in studying folks that lived during WWI, I see the kind of strength of spirit and determination that I don’t think we in the Canada of 2011 have any idea about.

Except from their example, of course.

My own grandfather, Ingram Bliss Jonah, signed up at age 16 in 1916.  His service record shows that he stated his birthdate was 1899.  Even his original family name, Jonah, somehow got mangled in the process, and he became Ingam Jonas.  I assume he didn’t want to get into trouble, being underage (16!) and said nothing when his name was incorrect.

I was looking at his attestation pappers, which my parents have an old copy of.  Then I looked it up online in the government database.  It was different.  I noticed there was an additional annotation written sideways, near the top.

It reads:

“Sworn declaration re date of Birth as 15th day February 1900.”

Where did that come from?  I asked my mother about this, and she laughed.  Apparently sometime in the 1950s a pension cheque arrived for Ing and he sent it back with a note that he had signed up underage and wanted to clear his record.

Who the heck sends back a pension cheque when it comes early?  Who writes to the government to correct a lie made in the name of King & Country so many years ago?

That’s honesty and integrity of the kind that saw my grandfather in good stead in the fields of France when he was only a kid, and later when he had kids of his own and wouldn’t let it slide when the truth had been buried.

I pray we don’t see the same kind of need to display his selfless courage, but I also pray that his values, that were shared by those who protected our freedom so many years ago, may live on in me and my kids.