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Saturday, March 13, 2010


politics in progress

Sunday (March 14) is election day in Colombia. And guess what? No one is allowed to sell booze this weekend. Does that make sense to you? I didn't get it. This is Colombia, people like to drink, why are they being punished this way?

But then Bea found out: it's not the booze that's the dangerous factor in this equation, it's the politics. At election time people 'get angry' about things and fight a lot, and if there's too much booze, they pull out their guns and shoot each other.

So then she gets advice - given the fact that tomorrow is voting day and everyone stocked up on liquor during the week anyway - about what to do if someone pulls a gun on you.

You should never say 'don't shoot me' - it's too confrontational for a guy who has a gun. It's like you are daring him to shoot. Instead, one should say, 'I don't like guns' - then it all becomes a matter of taste, which is an acceptable difference of opinion.

Sunday, March 07, 2010


remembering in Medellin

remembering in Medellin - Bea, originally uploaded by plastictaxi.

A few days after I arrived in Colombia, Bea's mother - Julia de Maria Auxiliadora Echeverri Pizano - died. She was 81, played golf, and survived her husband by 2 decades. She was Bea's aunt, but adopted her after her birth mother died when Bea was 2.

It was a long journey to the end for Julia: she spent the last five years in a home for the ageing, as she began to succumb to Alzheimer's. She was a good mother.

The photo above was taken the day after she died, after the funeral service. We were with Bea's cousin, who lives in a 16th floor apartment on the side of a mountain. The last few days I have met a couple dozen of Bea's cousins, as we shared the weight of Julia's death, and I struggled to keep up with what they were saying.

Living in a valley creates a particular kind of culture - you are always aware of the city, it's always around you, and the world outside is a distinctive step away towards something foreign. I can't quite get my head around it, but I feel like it affects the culture here.

...hm. Maybe I'm needing something to think about while we are remembering.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010


Maria in Florida

Maria in Florida, originally uploaded by plastictaxi.

This is my mom in Florida. Dad took the shot.

They spent January and February touring the southern States - Mom's ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease, a slow paralysis) is 'progressing', and she decided that she didn't want to sit under 10' drifts of snow outside of Arnprior all winter when she could be enjoying these days in balmier climes. They came home a little early when it seemed that the States was getting hit worse by winter storms than the Ottawa Valley.

Regardless, they seem to have had a bit of fun.

Lately I find myself telling her I love her every time we speak. It just comes out. I can't wait to say it to her.

One of the things I've discovered makes her cry is thinking of us - her kids - not staying in touch with each other when she's gone. I don't think that will happen though. Everything seems more precious now.

Monday, March 01, 2010


De-icing at YYZ

De-icing at YYZ, originally uploaded by plastictaxi.

Flew to Montreal this week for a couple of days at a workshop of "Out the Window" - a piece based on Liza Balkan's experience of witnessing a man die while resisting arrest, and the six years of legal ramblings as the legal system churned over her.

De-icing: what we do to planes to prevent their wings from collecting material that distorts their airfoil shape. If we let ice build up, the wings don't work and people (along with the planes that house them) fall from the sky. The Greeks got it wrong with Icarus - as we scale the heights it gets cold, not hot. Maybe if they had had bigger mountains they would have known. Regardless, either way can kill you, I suppose.

What I didn't know about de-icing was that it essentially is a spray coating of antifreeze that pretty much blows off over the course of a flight. All those houses under the flight path - especially just after lift-off - get a light shower of hydrocarbons as the anitfreeze sloughs away into the noise of takeoff and landing. I felt gross about it. Can't wait for the high-speed bullet train along the Toronto-Montreal corridor.

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