Time doesn’t heal

If everybody knew what would happen next, there would be no story

When dealing with my neighbors I constantly try to watch for the broader context: the growing city; the balance between space and purpose; human needs as a guiding thread in public space. Taking the time to consider the threads that guide us as a society is always a challenge. There is no promise for reward in patience.

Whether I live forever or die while writing these words, my body is consumed in time. So as much time is required to get to something in life, it’s never a waste. This story is about time and about choices. I realized one day that I like people. I like people and I don’t always get along well with some. When dealing with my rowdy neighbors, I never knew ahead of time, where things would go.

My sleep is pretty light. But even so, my neighbors’ idea of chill is having middle of the night gatherings. Getting back to sleep requires something to happen. Either the noise stops, or I invest resources in managing to sleep. Even with ear plugs, their noise is still there, hitting my eardrums. In front of me lies the core of understanding why humanity developed industries around war.

One society wants something that conflicts with the interests of the other. The moment violence enters the scene, there’s war. Our desires happen to occur at the same time. I have a measly Noise Control bylaw in my support. My neighbors…, well, they have all sort of arguments.

In the first days of the March 2020 lockdown, they moved to the ground floor of the house beside us. After a short while, a rowdy party woke us up late-late one night. It wasn’t the first noise coming from their direction but it was definitely more extreme. A few hour later, at the end of my morning run I noticed a guy behind the open window. I approached him, and described the night’s situation from our side. His apologies were immediate and whole hearted. “Sorry, my bad. It was my birthday. We won’t do that a lot.”

In those days I was a volunteering member of an Advisory Committee in the City of Vancouver. Our final meeting in December 2020 dissolved in explosion over conflict between two members.

From the high expectations of the advisory committee, I returned to the low-key conflict in my own backyard. It continued to engage me in thought, planning and action. The conflict I was trying to resolve looked deceptively simple: I wanted to sleep; my neighbors wanted to chill.

The disturbances continued to be occasional up to a point where they started to become routine. My neighbors always seemed to me like having an innate sense of honesty. They just wanted to chill. They are young, for most of them this is their first time living away from their parents.

I was their age at one point in my life. The apartment I rented with my brother was half a floor above the neighbor opposite us in the building. One afternoon she politely knocked on our door. She asked us to lower the volume of our music. The last thing we wanted to do was acknowledge how loud we played our music.

Neighbors can be such a pain! I realized that for mine, I am now the pain. They’re working to make a living and in between are enrolled in some type of higher education. Their opportunities to chill are limited. And besides, I was the only neighbor that complained.

Our houses are three meters apart. A week after my first call to the police they were partying again. I knocked on their door, this time employing my inner yogi. I was invited in and engaged with my neighbors in a friendly chat. They promised to try and keep their noise down. I managed to insist – with a smile – that they need to do better than try.

I kept thinking of the facilitator in a workshop I took in 2019. In the time of the Argentinian mess of the seventies he was a young rebel. Among other forms of resistance and defiance against the oppressive regime his group engaged in disruptions of the government TV broadcasts. For home dwellers those disruptions were a nuisance. Eventually he was caught and put in jail. After two years in torturous conditions, he was released and brought to Canada.

Oddly enough, my neighbors, in my view, exhibit resistance and defiance that are on the verge of admirable. I’m not enjoying it myself, but they seem to have taken their interests and needs into a matter of principle. I am still baffled by what they are trying to achieve in protecting their questionable right.

My approach to them revealed a bunch of young guys in varying degrees of being drunk and stoned. This made me sad, more than anything else. Here I am, at the frontline of an opportunity to communicate a message and it has nowhere to go. Their message too, does not resonate with me.

I could hear some of their chats through the closed window. “But he hasn’t done anything to us.” one of them exclaimed in frustration. Then another voice responded with authority “Kill them with kindness” he said. “We will keep on pressing until he reacts. Then we will have a case against him.”

My urge to burn and kill immediately ignited. But in my life, it was always an urge I was aware of. The moment violence enters the scene, history becomes a story that every side tells from their own perspective. It doesn’t matter who’s right and who’s wrong. In violence everyone is right and all are wrong.

We are not the only people dealing with pesky neighbors. What is the individual response to conflict and how does this influence our approach to social justice, or to our political world? Do I even have influence over anyone? My opportunity is to balance my influence with responsibility. The challenge? Missing out on both fronts…

What intrigues me the most is the ongoing paradox we all live in.

In 1989 I was a design student. My instructor was a pilot in the Israeli Air Force. Back in 1982, the first Lebanon war, he was sent to drop bombs on a terrorist infested village. On his way to the target, he recognized that the building he was sent to demolish was no doubt a school. He turned away and dropped the bombs into the Mediterranean.

“A city is not buildings alone. In its deepest meaning, it is a reflection of culture. People were not born with cities around them. Humans gathered and evolved and set up rules, for how to live together and how not to live, how to build and how not to build.” My instructor kept these words close to his heart. They were written by one of his dear colleagues.

Time has its pace: A Lebanese boy, who witnessed my instructor’s veering aircraft in 1982, grew up to become an artist. In 2012, he exhibited in the Venice Biennale. The title of his work was “Letter to a refusing pilot”.

What future my neighbors and I are heading into is a story that will unfold whether I die while writing these words or live forever.

Piecing Vocabulary into Verse: One word at a Time.

Frustration pushes us to expressions that are mostly just placeholders for the words we might come up with when matters settle. If we’re lucky, matters settle so that we have time to reflect and generate productive insights. Alas, many times, as soon as matters settle, other issues arise and we are left with unresolved conflicts. A conflict could be as simple as the one between me and my daughter: I am interested in minimizing the variety of yogurts we consume; she needs to explore whatever is out there. It could be (and does become) as complex as divesting the world from relying on fossil fuels while investing in technologies that are not a direct promise for humanity’s survival.

In a simpler world, there used to be expressions of frustration that could sound very literal. There are many examples for conflict between parents and kids. Milk spilling on the floor; a tennis ball breaking a hole in the wall: the expressions of frustration many parents burst into, might be familiar. “I’ll Kill you!” or “You are no good for nothing.” Was the world ever simpler?

The simplicity I am referring to is when parents treated kids as lesser human beings. I still worry when I observe new generation parents exhibit such attitudes. Is the world much more complex these days? Maybe.

Because and thanks to that complexity, our capacity to deal with frustrations becomes even more pressing. Added to that is a tension that is hard to resolve. Parents’ interest in regarding their kids as equal to them is being challenged daily. Children’s evolving capacity to deal with frustrations of adults makes them pretty vulnerable. When a voice of authority charges at them, children can be pretty helpless. When that voice of authority is frustrated, a child has to endure the outcome. And then the child absorbs and learns. The word some parents use these days is very simple. In their frustration their intention might be merely tongue in cheek. They might even be trying to be ‘cool’. So they resolve to what they themselves grew up with. They just say “Fuck!”

Thinking of it now, I find the literal version to be an honest expression of simplicity. The first time a child hears their parent saying “I’ll kill you”, they might literally fear for their life. But as time goes by, they realize the lack of intention. They absorb and learn. As they grow up they even try to improve on the level of shock their own expressions generate.

Then comes Eddie Murphy and shows us how far (or low) we can still go:

Fucked in translation

And I’ve already given some thought to the people whose vocabulary is a beacon of simplicity. Their discourse can be summed up by a few simple words that decorate the spew of ‘fucken’, which is the main sound they emit. I used to hear our neighbors, a bunch of thirty somethings who at some point rented the house beside us. With a ‘fucken’ this and ‘fucken’ that, their conversation had always sounded energetic, interested, caring.

For years I have been looking for and practicing verses to clearly articulate my message. Occasionally I even think I’ve managed pretty well.

But frustration never takes a break. It’s a driver of both innovation and defeat. If you ask people what their preference would be, innovation is probably going to trump defeat. Reality however, shows us that people’s choices can be in conflict with their own good. Even the worst parents want to see their children succeed. Telling your kids they are no good for nothing, I’m sure, is not helpful. Still, even while employing “clean” language, some of the best parents fail.

So what the #_@&! can I do? Grow up?

Is this true to society as well? What does society need in order to grow up? If I break down the process of growing up in a single human being into its experiences, can we scale it up?

When I went with my father to a soccer game I was about fourteen. Neither of us were huge soccer fans. But among the teams on the field we had our favorite. The game started and immediately something strange happened. The referee blew the whistle, called one of the players from the team of our choice and drew a yellow card. The crowd hummed in disapproval. What the player did didn’t look offensive, neither intentional, let alone worthy of such a grave warning.

As the game progressed, “our” team scored. We got the desired lead. The game had a long way till the finish. The referee kept blowing the whistle against “us”. Then the game heated up. Our team was playing better. Not much better. The other team was a good match. The referee kept blowing the whistle against us. But we scored another goal! Roars of excitement filled the stadium. We could win! But the referee kept whistling. It was obvious he was against us. Every time he stopped one of our players the crowd roared in contempt. My father and I joined in shouting.

“NO!” or “THATSNOTFAIR!”. These felt somewhat benign compared to the typical fucks and son-of-a-bitches around us, but this is what I knew. This is what I was used to. 

A score from the other team. It was getting tight. If the other team scores again, there would be a tie. We wanted to win. Then, we scored. “YEY!” and “YESH ELOHIM!!! (A god exists)”. The referee blew the whistle. He canceled the goal. WHAT?! The stadium erupted. It wasn’t the noise that was astounding, The whole block of concrete bleachers hummed along with the vocal cords of our human volcano.

For the first time in my life I heard my father beside me shout “Hashofet Benzona! (The referee is an S.O.B)”

The other team scored a tie, then our team scored again and we won.

It was a great game. It was over with a sense of fulfillment. I felt a bit out of place but was happy with the experience. The intensity of it left me with many questions. My vocabulary expanded unintentionally. But the questions keep leading my way. 

In his essay just a few days before the 2020 US elections, Eddie Hock talks about euphemisms.

Eddie is the son of friends we visited just a few days before the 2016 elections. Together, we’ve watched in subdued horror the last debate between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. Since then, the horror show of the Trump presidency kept its momentum. If it only were directed at constructive outcomes, the past four years could have been admirable. Every day that passed raised the same question: is this ever going to end?

Eddie’s current essay triggered in me an urge to put a few thoughts of my own together. They are not related to politics in any specific way. However, the sense of collapse in the wake of the 45th POTUS requires a rebuild that begins with the smallest step possible to move forward. Wishing us all a complete process of healing. The leading goes to Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. It would be every one of us that will allow the healing to happen. Thank you Eddie.

Testing for CoV2

What exactly should testing for CoV2 look like?

CoV2 is short for SARS CoV2, which is still short for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome caused by the Corona Virus 2, also known as the Virus causing COVID-19, or the 2019 nCoV. All of this is still way shorter than the endless discussions, debates and pollicization that are part of our reality this year. The way society is dealing with the pandemic that this virus is responsible for is fertile ground for fantastic research in any field of interest.

I wake up with what feels like a discomfort in my throat/chest, similar to any previous incident of seasonal cold. My sense is that the health I am experiencing will always be a combination of luck and proper handling of my body. I don’t have gauges that tell me which of the two is working hard or running out. If I had such gauges, one of them would reflect the pieces of life where I have no control over; the other would provide indication to how well I took care of the actions where I do have control.

But life is complex, layered, diffuse. It’s almost impossible to attribute one single source to a specific outcome. Luck and control have many overlaps. My genes are an example of pure luck. This one is easy. However, there are lots of areas where the amount of control I have varies. It’s still there nevertheless. Let’s say if I ride the Skytrain and do not get infected by the current virus of interest, the SARS-CoV2, there is a combination of both in my journey. Still, this one might also be an easy example. What about the yogurt I consume?

So, I am living in an amazing global experiment. A whole society, which I am part of, is trying to handle a situation that has many variables and very little control over the outcome. A whole society meaning 7.8 Billion of us. A society that ranges wildly in reactions to the virus. I’ve had someone running away from me when I jogged in the park one day. Some people I know express a distressed dose of suspicion and disbelief. I think each of us has a confusing array of insights that are in search of response. We all want to employ the right type of responsibility in making a choice.

I call 811, the number that takes me to HealthLink BC. The experienced health person on the other side of the line advises me to go test for CoV2. I take the Skytrain, this time, hoping I am not infecting others and head to the parking lot where the testing facility is located. Access is pretty straightforward; personnel direct me and my luck gauge is in the green: I am next in line. Lineups are such a drag!

When Anat, my wife and I were testing for citizenship, I drove her nuts with my attention to the waiting hall’s details. She was trying to focus on the details of the exam we were about to take.

In the parking lot, I was on my own. From across the street you immediately notice the white tents. I’m in the right place. Should I approach from the right or from the left. Signage is not the best it could be, but if I take the wrong side, I’m not going to get lost. The compound is surrounded by a black tarp. I take a turn to the right. In a makeshift opening along the fence, a few role holders wearing masks look at me and ask in a welcoming gaze “testing for Covid?”

“This is so organized.” I think. From there, you can hardly make a mistake. One person directs me to the screening desk. I am then escorted by another worker who provides me with more information as to what I am about to experience. He hands me an info page that includes a lot of what he’s just said and some more. It’s clear, well laid out and brief. More information is related to in the form of links for browsing if I want to.

Then I sit in front of the health worker who is going to shove the swab into my head.

In my experiences so far, I’ve always been in awe with how straightforward and friendly people in the health industry have been and still are. My childhood family doctor was a grumpy old professional, who I remember fondly. Dr. Ziskind was always kind. Yet his whole presence communicated a sense of us being intruders in his holy space. But the way his name could be understood – Cute Child – made us excuse his formalities. Since then, there’s been a welcome shift from healthcare providers placing themselves as second to God. Most of who I encounter these days project a sense of “we’re all in this together”. From other people’s experiences, I am aware that there is always more that can improve. My own lucky gauge is still in the green. With my control gauge I also get indications that I’m fine.

I manage to cooperate with the intense punishment of the swab.

It reminds me of the Thai soup I once had in Bangkok. The waitress passed beside me just as I was taking my first or second sip. I tried to respond to her inquiry of how the soup was. My vocal cords refused to express the sound of the word that my lips were painting: “good”.

This time I wanted to say thank you. My eyes were welling after the endless six seconds or so of the swab rubbing against my brain. My vocal cords returned to life after a few short seconds. I put on my mask and left with a strange sense of anticipation.

But before that there was an intriguing question: which nostril would I prefer the procedure to be taken in. Wow! Even here I get to make a choice. Indeed, my right nostril seems like the tube with the wider access to my nasal cavity. Eventually the swab reaches its destination. But the torture is temporary. I’m still in awe with the way the people involved are handling their roles. If anything, I am grateful. I take the Skytrain back home and sign up for having the results texted to me. Within 24 to 48 hours I should expect a message.

The next morning I am cleared. My gauges are imaginary. But the feeling is real. I’m OK.

Covid-19 is a moment in time

After Some Time, a sudden realization has dawned on humanity: We are all 1.

The term ‘after some time’ can be understood as the few hours or days that have passed since my country or yours have shut down their borders.

The term ‘after some time’ can be understood as the few years since technology allowed us to connect so broadly, immediately and personally with each other.

It can also be understood as the decades and centuries of innovation that brought humanity to act as one in its effort to control the spread of a virus. Not the deadliest one we’ve ever known, which is possibly our luck this time.

An anchor for exercise bands.

After finishing the reading of Walter Isaacson’s ‘The Innovators‘, I moved on to ‘Never Split the Difference’ by Chris Voss. This transition follows me as I am working part of the week at BCIT on a project involving a team, that is spread around the world. I am also working in Arkit, where we deliver a service that involves both technology and human interaction; in other words – tools and support.

We are in the midst of a fascinating process where no one knows exactly where it takes us, yet everyone feels its impact.

For quite a while I’ve been using communication tools that evolve constantly. I’m not the only one in the world who is doing so. My mom, owned a dial phone after waiting for it a few years, back in the days when you had to order a line and wait. Now, she’s using a remote control for her TV, a cell phone and a tablet. My co-workers are all with me in mumbling a few words before the internet based conference call allows all of us to see and hear each other clearly. We still remind each other to either un-mute or even mute our own side.

Now, the quick move all over the world to home-based-work wherever you can, expands the reality described above to almost all of us.

The Covid-19 is just non-deadly enough to keep us cooperating; it is however deadly enough to shed light, for the purposes of this moment, on two insights: 1. when people are afraid for their lives they are capable of extraordinary feats. 2. we have systems that work.

Our systems always need updating. Our systems are not perfect. Some of them might even be broken.

But we are all 1.

No one in the world, to the best of my knowledge, expressed a need to let the Covid-19 kill its way through society. And even if anyone did, their voices do not have the right vibes to reach far enough. What one can notice while moving outdoors or connecting indoors, is a quest for life.

People want to survive.

We as a species, are already cooperating to heal from the spread of one disease in the short term. In the long run, our systems require a lot more attention. Hopefully, we will keep our cooperation going so that our broken systems can be fixed.

It is a fascinating process.

My Little BayCrest

A few words from within an ongoing process of exploring ideas, fabric art and functional skills.

When I want to properly refer to Mintage, I’m still in search of words. This clothing and fashion accessories boutique has been open since 2005. I peeked in once and kept away for a few years.

Mintage is located on 1714 Commercial Dr . Vancouver, BC

A few years ago, out of curiosity, I actually stepped in. It has a large quilt framed on one of its walls. Other than that, it was obvious there was nothing for me there to even consider looking at, let alone buying. I was curious about the quilt though, not for buying of course, just about it. Turns out it was made by the owner’s mom. This is a lovely piece of fabric art, made of what looks like a random assortment of off-cuts. Not your typical, painstakingly surgical pattern of fabrics made into a wedding gift. I appreciate quilts a lot. However, they usually give me a sense of… well,… I never ever would have interest in one of them hanging on my wall. I do appreciate them a lot though. The one in Mintage inspired me.

The whole space has the unmistakable aura of a well thought of, lovingly cared for shopping destination.

As much as the inventory at Mintage looked like costumes from B movies to me, I was still curious to browse through it a bit. On one of the racks of shirts, my eyes got a glimpse of an odd item. “What tha hell?!” was my first reaction. The one and only time I had some liking for a denim jacket is long forgotten in my teenage years. Plaid too, is one style I wish we could see less of in the streets. I had some of my own, but please, let’s just forget about it, OK? OK, what on earth is this thing?! Almost half denim, half plaid – this crazy piece of wild west clothing beast includes a third type of fabric. A shiny red strip of fake glamour is integrated into its sleeves and other parts.

I lifted the shirt out with its hanger. I wanted to get a better view of it. I wanted to imagine who might be the person who’d be willing to pay for such a thing. New, it couldn’t have been cheap, that’s for sure. Someone was taking this design pretty seriously. Since I was already holding it in front of me, I noticed it had missing buttons in both cuffs. And they were hoping to sell it?! Oh, well.

And what is it here!? In one of the sleeves there was a small hole, obviously not part of the original design, something that looked as if a cigarette burned through the fabric. But wait, that was not all. A designated piece of partly printed, partly embroidered fabric was sewn to the box-plate (what I might call buttons-band). Really! This was making no sense. And you might guess that it wasn’t long until I tried it on. 

Missing cuff buttons? Embarrassing “cigarette” hole? That was my first Mintage purchase.

When I asked about the missing buttons, the young woman at the cashier brought a large jar made of glass and empties it on the counter. Of the hundreds of buttons, I managed to choose the ones that I later added to the cuffs on my own at home.

For the cigarette hole, I took an old piece of fabric from a discarded pair of pants and made a patch to cover it. My sewing skills were so bad at the time that the patch looked as if it was part of the original design.

Then I realized that the two chest pockets were a bit saggy. So, I added two more buttons of my own to this DIY, rebranded fashion declaration.

Notice that small patch of delicately striped red fabric on the cuff.

Since that first purchase I occasionally stepped in again to Mintage. I kept coming back to that rack, hoping to catch a glimpse of yet another oddball shirt. The quilt on the wall was still there. The shirts on the rack, however, returned to being the typical dreary second hand items worthy of B-Movies. The same sense of “What tha hell am I doing here!?” returned to the comics bubble above my head.

And yet, among the bizarre, there sometimes happens to reside a perfectly old fashioned, insanely mundane item: a regular, yet high quality shirt that would probably cost over $200 anywhere else. Would I want this one if it cost only $24? Sure, why not. That was my second Mintage purchase.

Meanwhile, my pile of discarded old jeans was growing steadily. In most of them the zipper stopped functioning. Replacing a zipper these days, apart from being a slightly time consuming affair, is quite a breeze for me. At the time, I knew that eventually I will need to take a course somewhere to bring my sewing to the desired level of freedom. But I didn’t want to throw the broken zippered items yet, however much I couldn’t really use them anymore. However, I could turn them into something else. Not necessarily a king size blanket such as the Mintage piece of art, but something. Something simple, like a tote bag…

I’ve already purchased a nice looking tote bag – lining and all – some years before plunging into this adventure. I even bothered to fix it here and there when it started to fall apart. So I had a reference for how my quilted tote bag should be made. Who cares how bad my sewing skills would be in making this one.

Then came our visit to New York in 2016. I was sitting on our hosts’ window ledge, enjoying the space, the conversations and the time off from home in Vancouver. Without thinking much, I measured the size of the surface I was sitting on. I knew that when we get back home I will make a pillow case to fit that recess. The measurements were made with the palm of my hand. This was obviously going to be a surprise. And when I sent the complete item to our friends, I was informed that it fit perfectly.

I was always frustrated by the results of my haphazard sewing habits. There were mostly long gaps of time between the need to mend a pair of pants or adding a zipper to a duvet cover. Until the tote bag and window ledge pillow case, there weren’t any projects I committed to engage in. This meant that every time I sat down to use the machine, I had to struggle with leading the thread in the right path. Until I did that, of course, whatever I tried to do ended up in a mess. So what better way to keep my practice alive if not by trying to make a shirt? A front buttoned shirt, that is.

Well, I’m a designer. I can trace a pattern from an existing shirt, can’t I? Well, I’m a designer. That doesn’t make me a seamster, nor a tailor. But, y’know, I’m not afraid to try and trace a pattern. And that’s what I did. And the result, although seemed to have taken ages, was made in a matter of a few weeks in the winter of early 2017.

My first buttoned shirt and not my first quilt.

Then, in April of that year, I got a job that made me pleased with celebrating in a clothing purchase. Incidentally, one of my Israeli nieces started her army service at that time. Back to Commercial Drive in Vancouver, I was facing the familiar reality of the stuffy air of Mintage. “What am I doing here?!” floated above my head like a comics balloon again. But wait!

My Israeli niece, army, camouflage… Perfect. I’m taking this.

Homage to a newly recruited soldier niece.

In late 2018 I resigned from my job mentioned above. I was feeling empowered. Where can you find a decently priced, unobtrusively wacky, strangely normal shirt if not in Mintage. With four unique items on my home rack, I can probably be called a steady client.

However, my reluctantly curious shopping adventures haven’t deterred me from looking for sewing opportunities. OK, my collection of shorts is also growing worn out a bit. This was a worthy challenge for my pattern tracing practice. In my most recent spree, I (finally) found out that my sewing machine had a foot specifically suited for sewing zippers. Yey!

My second pair of sewn from scratch shorts.


Failure is a moment of beauty.

I actually said this to a friend one day.

The crash into the abandoned car revealed itself to me in slow motion. A fraction of a second is all it took from the moment I realized I was about to crash and my car’s front right corner bending into the back of the other. Then my car swept in a half circle into the middle of the highway. I remember not knowing exactly what to do. I remember flooring the clutch and releasing the gear; letting go of the brake pedal until I felt the car just coasting backwards; gently braking to a stand-still; applying the handbrake; assessing what is happening on the highway.

Then the sense of failure washed over me.

But there wasn’t much time to stay in that moment. People who saw me crashing rushed from their cars to my help. Apart from my left hand that hurt slightly, nothing had happened to me. I stepped out of my car with a guy guiding me to the side of the road. I asked him if he could bring my bag that was still on the passenger seat. In it were my wallet and some documents. Someone called for an ambulance. It was around 3 am.

My concern was to manage getting back home on time to walk my dog. Hardly anything happened to me really. I was alive and ready to continue my day. As soon as I was released from hospital, the sense of a new life swept my senses.

It was a beautiful day.

I expect people to be interested in what they are doing. Whatever others expect is different for each and every one of us. The process we go through starts as soon as we meet. Exploring expectations sets the tone of the process. There might not be any promise of success – and failure is never an aim. The reality of working in groups is one of expectations.

I was working in a landscape architecture office. My experience as an industrial designer allowed me to integrate into the workflow in a way that was both challenging and satisfying. Many projects passed beside me without being involved in them personally. I was partially intrigued, partially appalled to notice how often the dysfunctional communications of the team nurtured frustrations that could have been avoided.

It was an intense learning process for me. I tried to learn from my mistakes too. The sense of failure was always in the air. However, some of the failures were painfully simple to avoid.

Thanks to my unintentional position of the outsider I could see other possibilities. I couldn’t say these possibilities would have necessarily worked. But I saw the possibilities, where others accepted failure as a reality to live with.

The moment of failure has a very short lifespan in me. My mind quickly switches to simple questions: what have I learned from this? What can I do next?

Failure, as much as it can be painful, presents us with opportunity.

In opportunity, I’m sure, you too can see beauty.

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The Now Moment

Are you reading now or, maybe now the reading is you?

Count on the moment to come

I had breakfast, I am proofreading and if it’s not over yet, the race is just about to be over. The posts that make this story, generate expectations. If you are reading this, your reality is directed into a story. Now, it’s your own. What will unfold, can still serve more than just the future. The story from the past, informs my thoughts and process. And so, a network of influences constantly affects my moment. In turn, the future becomes my moment too. Are you there with me?

My mind is a generator of content. My body is the tool to deliver this content into action.

Yohanan Stern walking in the dunes of Nitsanim Reserve in Israel, 2013

In 2016 I worked with my family on a memory book. The intention was to have it ready for my father’s year since passing. Each of my family members had their own approach to the idea of having this book made. Being the only member of my family living away from Israel, this project was a fascinating opportunity for me. Every step of the way was more than just one milestone. Our story is one of past, future and the moment. The resulting book reflected that beautifully.

I was inspired to take that experience and implement my insights from it into everything I do. But I realized as well, that my insights – even before the memory book – have been consistently similar.

My work is a journey to connect with people.

Every person has their own past, future and moment.

Our connection takes us through a journey that starts in a moment.

A heron in Lost Lagoon spreading its wings, possibly to heat up in the morning sun.

In joining the run to support Mount Pleasant Neighborhood House (MPNH), I enjoy the process as much as the questions that it raises. Along the way, the story unfolds: I wonder if my fitness is improving at all; I am inspired by engagements with people; I experience the pieces of my story coming to life.

Now I only have to stretch and run. Thank you for your interest and support.

This is the final in a series of posts I’ve shared prior to the event on June 23. If you are interested in my story, feel free to comment and follow this blog to get alerts when new posts are published. The whole series can be read in one piece here.

Technology, Design and Thinking

I’ve always enjoyed the sensations relating to hard physical work. At times my routines brought me to peaks of fitness. Other times I was injured and couldn’t keep up with the level of activity I aspired to. So, achievements in how many pull ups I managed or how far I could run, were always a side-note for me. Routine hard physical work pushes me to a level of focus that translates into my other engagements in life: Design, Technology and Thinking. How available my body will be to participate in my mental maintenance is clearly uncertain. This plays a significant part in my decision (if there ever was one) to avoiding professional sports.

Life can be simple, yet calculated.

However, in working out for the 5 Km event on June 23rd, I am benefiting from some interesting technology. Even before heading out, I can plan my course on my computer. Either Google maps or other web tools provide information such as distance, elevations and more. In order to select a proper running shoe, I browsed through some websites and got lost in more information I could handle. I even got some training plans to ease my way into a healthy progress. 

I can hardly buy simple shoes anymore, that’s for sure. No complaint here. The structure of shoes allows my running to be cushioned enough to avoid shock, yet braced in the right spots to keep my joints in place.

I took my cell phone with me occasionally to measure times and track my course. Recently I decided to try a fitness watch. Just like cell phones, I am browsing through it to find the features that really interest me. One day I might even create my own app for it. There’s still so much to explore before the optimum interface of a fitness watch will fit the needs of a majority of users. Product personalization means that we might never reach that optimum. Do we really have such elaborate needs?

Intermediate training plan for a 5 Km run.

Does running for a cause make my running different? As long as my body cooperates I try to provide it with opportunities for movement. Staying physically active in turn, nurtures my other interests and vocations. I see the connections in life in a pretty broad view. I could say that everything is connected, even if not always as a reflection of cause and effect. I definitely refrain from assigning values to what I can see as connections. So the cause is one part of my run and other parts are there whether I invest in them or not.

I’m practicing my writing skills; I’m engaging on a personal level with people I see only occasionally; and I’m developing new concepts for programs, services and products. I would have done all of these without the race. But as stated above, the level of focus I reach, benefits my other engagements. Contributing to the case of Mount Pleasant Neighborhood House (MPNH), is an opportunity for me to do more for myself as well.

Achievements, Results, Finish Line: Process is at the core of it all.

Design is a way of planning. I realized a long time ago that no matter what I do in life, I am a designer. So the race is a component within a complex, yet straightforward network of stories that make my life. The more I think of it, it makes sense to me. Design is a Matter of Life.

This is the fifth in a series of posts I’ve shared prior to the event on June 23. If you are interested in stories like this, click “Follow by Clicking Here”, on the right side bar. The whole series can be read in one piece here.

Mom and Pop Shops anyone?

In many of my visits to community consultations, I heard the desire for mom and pop shops. This, in light of the impossible hikes in rent, seemed to me like one of those paradoxes that lie in the platform of community consultations. City staff are honestly interested in hearing what residents want. Residents honestly share their interests.

Then property owners, especially owners of ones in desirable areas, raise the rent.

Terasen invested in transforming some crosswalks along Commercial Drive into Italian themed artwork.

Can mom and pop shops survive the scale of development and gentrification of a city? Typically, such venues are more expensive than your 5-minutes-drive-away Safeway or even cross-the-street “Medium Scale Neighborhood Market”. These chains have much more variety and the convenience of… anonymity. Yeah, some of us still yearn for mom and pop shops.

I’ve been shopping along Commercial drive for roughly 15 years now. What was called The First Ravioli Store is now Easy Shop. With the significant change of ownership and inventory, we still find our fresh pasta and favorite cheese there. Many mom and pop shops are really a sad and tired corner in retail streets. Typically their operators/owners struggle to make ends meet. After First Ravioli changed hands some years ago, I was impressed to see the efforts the new owner took to revitalize the space. And still, in a quickly changing street like Commercial drive, this corner store always seems to be at least one step behind. Jawid, the friendly owner of Easy Shop removed the sliced meats we occasionally got at First Ravioli. We still find our fresh pasta and favorite cheese there.

Another component in the Terasen street touch ups.

If you had to grade my enthusiasm with mom and pop shops, I’m probably on the lower side of the scale. But the community consultations I went to, made me curious to see what it really means for me to support this strange little beast.

At one point, early in his time there, I shared with Jawid a personal thought. That, to my surprise, made him grateful for my insight and generosity.

A few months later I shared with him my concern with finding the same cheese we were buying from him, significantly cheaper somewhere else. Before doing that I was struggling whether to bother talking with Jawid about the issue or not. He thanked me profusely and the next week – lo and behold – informed me that he talked with his supplier. We could continue buying our favorite cheese at Easy Shop.

Now, as part of my experiment in fundraising, I am handing my notes in places I visit. I casually approach people I know and share with them my call for support. Without expecting much, what drives me in this is a simple thought: If I don’t ask, how will people know?

The canopy, the cash register at Easy Shop and the link to my fundraising page: http://bit.ly/2VGfwBX

Jawid, is the first shop owner I shared my fundraising run with. On my visit there today, my note was proudly posted on the cash machine. That was so heartwarming. I asked him if I could take some photos and promised to post them on my social platforms.

Mom and Pop Shops anyone?

This is the fourth in a series of posts I’ve shared prior to the event on June 23. If you are interested in  stories like this, click “Follow by Clicking Here”, on the right side bar. The whole series can be read in one piece here.

Mental Core

There is a mental effort whether running on a treadmill or outdoors. The difference between the two is noticeable. But in both cases, whenever I run, the mental challenge exists. Here’s a useful mantra for myself: “There’s always a good reason; there’s never a good excuse.”

Some gravel, some paved, the Champlain Heights trail is one in many options.

The course of the Scotia Bank Vancouver race has a combination of paving and gravel. To practice for the race I wanted to do some of my runs in similar conditions in my neighborhood. The pathways beside Champlain Heights Community Center provide a good match. In recent months we’ve been going to the Champlain Heights gym almost exclusively. It was really nice to do a combined outdoors-indoors training recently.

Another good training venue is Trout Lake Park (John Hendry). One of its paths is about 1300 M long. Last year I ran there a few times. Then Killarney Park has a 400 M track that is great for working on my pacing. I’ve already done more than 5 KM outdoor runs. It wasn’t easy. I need to be ready for more.

In the highly visited course around Trout Lake, I can practice some chasing of other runners.

My inspiration comes in many forms. Watching Mo Farah win both the 10,000 M and 5,000 M races in two successive Olympics is good for boredom reduction on the treadmill. However, along the trails in a park I need something else to keep me going. The fresh air is one of the best incentives to run outside. The actual movement on real ground is another best. But my head, alas, is working against me occasionally. “OK, just one more round. I can’t do more than that today.” So easy to fall for that…

Boring yet useful, the 400 m track is great for pacing.

In the doc festival of last year I watched ‘Free Solo‘. This film follows Alex Honnold through his process of preparing for and eventually climbing the El Capitan rock without ropes. Just like I will never run as fast as any of the competitive runners, I will never climb anything the way a professional climber will. The act of climbing in itself is breathtaking. But, something else completely, was for me the core take away from watching the movie.

In order to make his climb, Alex had to prepare for every single move. Gradually, a mental image of the whole climb formed in his mind. What connects me so successfully to ‘Free Solo’ is my own attention to detail and perseverance. I came out of watching ‘Free Solo’ with a renewed sense of purpose. The phrase I’ve been using for quite a while now, keeps rolling: “Whatever you achieve is perfect. From there you can only improve.”

Alex Honnold writes down the day’s climbing event in his climbing journal. (National Geographic/Jimmy Chin)

In preparing for my 5 KM run, I am taking my mental core with me and putting it to the test. It’s not a huge task. My aim is to challenge myself to be my own best. Getting closer every day.

Expect a weekly post until the event on June 23. If you are interested in stories like this, click “Follow by Clicking Here”, on the right side bar. The whole series can be read in one piece here.