Last week, I attended an “inclusion café” for public servants in Ontario that was focused almost entirely on micro-inequalities and how, over time, the violence inflicted through those micro-inequalities leads to an immense trauma.
It was a conversation that rarely happens—not just in public service, but anywhere—and I was reminded of previous conversations about the violence of language that I’ve been having over the past few weeks.
It was heartening to hear these conversations. Kudos to Anima Leadership for bringing this to the inclusion café and to the public service.
After a bit of a hiatus, I’m back. Hesitantly.
I’m still carrying the conversations about the violence of language with me as I re-engage, but there is too much good here to permanently leave. By being a part of the community, I can work hard to make it even better.
The AirBnB where we are staying has a LEBO art piece on the mantle, and it’s a painting of the actual house where we are staying! Must be a custom commission. I’m completely enamored.
In addition to that amazing LEBO piece, this AirBnB definitely has one of the greatest collections of southern vernacular art I’ve ever seen. It’s like an art gallery in here, and I absolutely love it.
Today marks the first time in over a decade that my blood pressure is hovering around 120/80 and my resting heart rate is below 70bpm.
I may still look completely out of shape, but this is probably the healthiest my heart has been in my adult life. I’m proud of myself for doing the work to get here.
I am okay with disagreement; I am not okay with dismissiveness. When your response to someone with whom you do not agree is discourteous, dismissive, and insulting, then it is clear you do not wish to engage, but instead to denigrate.
“If you prefer some echo chamber, though, have at it.”
This is a response that is not meant to engage in honest and curious conversation; it is a response intended to insult and dismiss the views of another. It is a response that says “I have no respect for your thought or for your right to have it.” It is not meant to further discussion and debate, but instead to end it by denigrating a person’s character.
We like to tell ourselves that micro.blog is a great place because we are civil and we have good conversations and discussions, even when we disagree, but I have faced more dismissiveness and insult on micro.blog in the past year than I have at any time in that other “micro” social network. This is not the civil community that we make it out to be, and by pretending that it is, we ignore when people feel actively excluded.
This is the reason I keep leaving micro.blog from time to time—to take a break from the negativity, especially since there are no ways to block discourteousness and insult to my character so I must be faced with it every time I log in—only to come back because I believe in the promise of the community.
It is the reason I am leaving again; it is the reason I probably won’t be coming back, this time.
Happy first day back at school to every student, no matter what their age, who is excited to learn so many new things in the weeks and months to come.
And a very special happy first day to all the teachers that guide us on our personal journeys of learning and exploration.
I may be slightly biased (as they are both my friends) but the most recent episode of Wonk With Mike—featuring an in-depth discussion with the amazing Kate Graham about mayors in Canada—is enthralling, timely, and full of things to learn and explore.
There are few things that bring me as much delight as the weddings of good friends. Yesterday, my friends Dana and Merlin got married in a beautiful ceremony in wine country, and I was so lucky to have been able to celebrate with them.
Prior to the ceremony, I also stopped in at one of my favourite wineries for a quick drink and bite; it was a perfect preamble for a lovely evening filled with friends, family, and love.
Not going to lie: this is definitely the most exciting part of my long weekend.
It took me a long time to be proud of my food and heritage. This piece on the ethnic food we were embarrassed to eat is great.
I’m surprised it took so long to get to this point. My ability to pay for (and have access to) higher education at a particular school doesn’t correlate to my ability to excel at a job. Glad the industry is moving away from credentialism.
It’s Micro Monday! Today, I’d encourage you to chat with @kitt, who is not only an amazing conversationalist and adds so much to the m.b community, but also regularly finds beauty and joy in the world and shares it with us.
Signs my mother knows me very well: she went to Lisboa and brought me some conservas as a gift.
(She obviously knows of my affinity for tinned fish.)
There’s a particular satisfaction when a person who really knows and appreciates wine (including hanging out with a bunch of winemakers and sommeliers) comes to your home and not only gushes about the wine you chose to serve him, but also compliments your wine collection.
My wife sometimes gets small gifts from grateful patients. Yesterday, she came home with a watermelon a patient had grown in their garden.
I usually don’t like watermelon; this one, however, was flavorful, delicious. Maybe there’s a case to be made for gratitude-grown fruits.
Can’t stop singing and dancing along to the new Janet Jackson track. Everything Janet does is pure joy.
Back to Micro Monday, after a long time. This Monday, I recommend following @vega who adds so much to our community and recently shared an excellent rumination on diversity and the indieweb.
A weekend full of trips to the lavender farm, swimming on the beach, sushi lunches, spending time with friends, nicoise salads, swimming in the pool, shopping at the farmers’ market, bottles of rosé, and lots of laughter.
Last night, I watched The Rocky Horror Picture Show for the first time in my life. The songwriting was mediocre, the plot was nonsensical, but OMG WHAT A FUN EXPERIENCE.
It may not be completely my speed, but I now understand why it’s such a phenomenon. Such a fun night.
As someone that has over twenty years of writing on the web still around, I‘m very interested in what the archiving of our every thought means to us as individuals—and how it affects our ability to grow, learn, and change our minds online.
There is no one like, and will never be another, Aretha Franklin. Today, amidst my tears, I celebrate her life, the life of the Queen. #RestInPower
“Blood is a burden, love. It should be. It should be heavy, a weight you carry. All of us carry that unshakeable chain.”
A few months ago, I backed a crowdfunding campaign to create a cookbook made up of recipes from chefs here in London, Ontario. I didn’t know what to expect from the project; I just wanted to support the culinary community in the city.
Yesterday, I picked up the final product, and I am floored by its quality and the immense care that went into making this book. I can’t wait to dive into it.
Went to see Come From Away this evening and I was blown away. Beautiful writing, phenomenal music, incredible singing and acting, and striking stage direction—all complementing a heartfelt story of community, generosity, love, and strength.
There’s a disinhibition in not caring, because the emotion of caring is inextricable from the act of caring for someone or something; the former compels the latter.
The video for Max Richter’s “On the Nature of Daylight” (a stunning piece of instrumental music) features Elisabeth Moss falling apart as she walks through Toronto (the city is recognizable, yet foreign) and it is one of the most impacting music videos I’ve seen in a long time.
I’ve found it hard to describe just why I loved Coco so much, why it is my favorite movie I have watched in years. I keep telling people it is the perfect movie for the moment, for me in my life right now, and in the context of the world I live in.
In the future, when people ask why I adore Coco so much, I’ll just point them to this incredible reflection in The New Yorker:
This world is hard enough already: its technological conditions induce emotional alienation, and its economic ones narrow our attention to questions of individual survival. As it is, I haven’t assembled the ofrenda I ought to. I barely feel like I’m taking adequate care of the people I love right now, and I mean the ones I know personally. I feel certain that I’m failing the people I don’t know but that I love nonetheless—the people in our national community, and the people who are seeking to become a part of it.
“Coco” is a movie about borders more than anything—the beauty in their porousness, the absolute pain produced when a border locks you away from your family. The conflict in the story comes from not being able to cross over; the resolution is that love pulls you through to the other side. The thesis of the movie is that families belong together.
On a side note: I wish all film writing was this poignant, this beautiful.
My wife had a bout of shingles last year and it was pretty horrible. I didn’t realize how debilitating it could be. The question is: why are so many young people getting it these days?
Chen points out that stress may also to play a role. “Shingles can happen among healthy young adults with no other underlying diseases and who are otherwise athletic, and sometimes we think it might be stress-induced,” he says.
Stress can suppress immune function and trigger outbreaks of cold sores and other herpes virus–related symptoms. “This is all speculation, but I think you could point to social media and modern culture and the emotional and physical and spiritual stress a lot of younger adults are feeling,” Chen says. “I don’t think this is driving higher rates, but it could be a factor.”
As someone who works in public service renewal and digital talent, this explains a large part of what I work on, every single day:
Despite being more necessary than ever, digital literacy hasn’t permeated deeply into the folds of the government. As we’ve seen, public servants often lack the expertise to know how to critique and test technology, and return poorly designed or faulty technology for improvement. The solution isn’t teaching civil servants how to code but instead teaching what kinds of digital tools and products are usable, and what expectations they should have from a product so we can avoid failures like the IRS website. It’s not just a software problem but an understanding problem.
It’s a societal loss that so many men grow up believing that showing aggression and stifling emotion are the ways to signal manhood. And it’s a personal loss to countless little boys who, at best, develop mechanisms for compartmentalizing certain aspects of who they are and, at worst, deny those aspects out of existence.
Sayaka Murata’s Love Letter to a Convenience Store is one of the strangest things I’ve ever read, but it’s oddly compelling.
In the New Yorker, an interesting reflection on “bullshit” jobs. I tell myself my work is useful and valuable, but sometimes I wonder…
Politicians are so fixated on job creation, he thinks, that no one wonders which jobs are created, and whether they are necessary. Unnecessary employment may be one of the great legacies of recent public-private collaboration.
I’ve been noticing that many of the books on my to-read list looked vaguely similar. LitHub has discovered that there is, indeed, a book cover trend emerging, all tracing back to Lauren Groff.
Absolutely love this list of 15 powerful women shaping how we eat in America today.
There are many reasons to love Brooklyn Nine-Nine, but the way it portrays Amy Santiago is a major one—unlike most other characters on television:
Pop culture has long reinforced the idea that intelligence and desirability can’t easily coexist in a female character. In a recent episode, Brooklyn Nine-Nine allows Amy to break down this dichotomy while recognizing its cultural pervasiveness.
Yesterday, the World Cup finals began. It is my favorite sporting tournament; it is the world’s favorite sporting event. Of all places, the New York Review of Books captures its history and spirit perfectly:
Ninety years ago, Jules Rimet welcomed commerce into international soccer to launch a competition wherein, he wrote, “foundational violence is subsumed to discipline and the rules of the game.” Today, we’re living in times when rules-based approaches are being scorned and smashed—and even Rimet’s global institution has been shaken by the crass logic of cash and political exploitation by strongmen. But on the fields where World Cup teams play, and in the bars and living rooms and cafés where we get to watch, his vision persists.
There are many reasons to be scared of the effects of climate change, but the arrival of a global dust bowl and the health issues it will cause is definitely among the big, underreported concerns.
The verdict? Wine was incredible (let the staff pick it for you) and the food was divine. 🏾🏾🏾
This post by Mike Monteiro on suicide is one of the most important things I’ve read on the topic in a little while:
When you hear that people “struggle with depression” I want you to know that struggle is the most real word in that sentence. Every day can be a fight. And every morning that struggle starts again. Someone who has to wake up and fight 365 days a year isn’t selfish, they’re exhausted.
There’s so much in what Mike writes about here that I can relate to, strongly and poignantly.
We’ve evolved to give more weight to our flaws, mistakes and shortcomings than our successes.
I’m particularly bad at being kind to myself; it’s something I need to work on more consciously.
Reading: “Every day, women across the country consider the risks. That is our day job and our night shift. We have a diploma in risk consideration.”
Reading: “There’s an unfair burden placed on people who experience oppression and discrimination to rise above it, or turn the other cheek.”
As a huge fan of Jeopardy!, this look at how the Jeopardy! writers room comes up with all of those questions was enlightening.
This profile on Jemele Hill and the future of ESPN by Bryan Curtis is fantastic, and comes at the right time.
Reading: “The truth hurts white people. Colin Kaepernick has hurt white people, and that is why it’s convenient to banish him, because he holds America’s worst nightmare: the mirror.”
Reading: “I make things for the same reasons babies put things in their mouths: to better understand the world, to sooth ourselves, and learn what to say.”
Reading: “Social mania may be ideal for mainlining breaking news, but it’s not great at providing meaning and context.”
Fascinating: “Between 1990 and 2014, visits to public libraries grew by a whopping 181%. For context, the population of the US increased by 28% during that period.”
Reading: “Fall is good and great, and it will come in time. But September’s summer days are wonderful: a kinder, gentler summer without the scorching heat waves.”
Reading: “The reason why Hooters appeals to me so much is because by tailoring itself to heterosexual men, it has unwittingly created a space where female patrons can go to be invisible.”
Reading: “How do you think big when you’re supposed to not get in the way, not overshadow or intimidate?”
We usually buy our strawberries by the crate from the farm down the street; I hadn’t realized just how much of a stranglehold Driscoll’s has on the berry market.
Oddly captivating: a moving line graphs the motion of everyday objects.
Reading: “Premium mediocrity is creating an aura of exclusivity without actually excluding anyone.”
I’m not much of a kombucha drinker, but my wife really enjoys it, so I was glad to share this fascinating secret queer history of kombucha with her.
Reading: “Cast iron balconies are at once bulky and intricate, their patterns tangled with flowers, leaves, and other motifs from nature. Wrought iron balconies tend to be simpler, but they make up in artistry what they lack in complexity.”
We ate very well this weekend (Hakka cuisine one night, schmaltz rice and Hainanese chicken another, and an octopus benedict for Sunday brunch) but the highlight was definitely this fresh burrata and poached Ontario peach dish. Still dreaming about it, today.
As a self-identified pedestrian at my core, this article was enlightening. “The more we embrace the romanticism of walking, the more we seem to look down on those who walk because they have to.”
Reading: “Part of the problem is in the word ‘like,’ that little heart we tap ten thousand times a day. I like lots of things, so many things, but I am not guided by what I like.”
Reading: “You are trying to push on a mountain, and you may only be able to move it an inch — but — you’ve moved a mountain an inch.”
Reading: “Growing up, I knew there would be food on the table, in the fridge, a delicious, seemingly inexhaustible supply. For me, the act of cooking was to be about self-sufficiency, adulthood—not a reanimation of childhood.”
Total eclipse of the sun, observed July 29, 1878, at Creston, Wyoming Territory. NYPL Digital Collections.
If we talked about what happened in Charlottesville the same way we talk about events in a foreign country, here’s how Western media would cover it.
Reading: “Instead of ruthlessly abusing each weekday as if it is some blunt utilitarian instrument, what if we leveraged everything we had to make each day stand for itself?”
Reading: “The opioid epidemic could kill hundreds of thousands in the next decade. But America can beat it, with the right political will.”
The story of the Duck Tales theme, history’s catchiest single minute of music. And now you’ll have that song stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
Reading: “The worst thing as an urban dweller is to be stuck with the auto as your only option.”
Reading: “Men are trash; we need to listen to women when they flame us w/ the truth about ourselves. It’s only when shitty behaviors are confronted that true behavioral change begins to takes place.”
This evening, L and I decided to embrace our inner teenagers: we went bowling, ate fast food, watched a blockbuster movie in the theatres, and went glow-in-the-dark mini-golfing. An evening full of delight, laughter, and so much fun.
Wait: thousands of bags of Doritos washed ashore a decade ago and nobody called me when it happened? I thought you were all my friends…
Reading: “We are ancestors. We are descendants. And while we can’t fix the problems of the past in the present, we can make sure that we break the patterns that formed those problems.”
July was a dry month; our lawn, like those of our neighbors, was tinged with beige no matter how much we watered the grass. Last night, the rain came, torrential, unrelenting, loud, almost frightening. I stared out the window and rejoiced at the majesty of the downpour.
Reading: “Nostalgia, which fuels our resentment toward change, is a natural human impulse.”
Reading: “By keeping your book in one location each time, you free yourself from the distractions of a commute or the pounding waves of a beach. As a result, a strange new relationship forms, between you, the voice of the book, and the room.”
You’ll find the West Loop near the edge of Springbank Park. It’s a modest walking trail of about 2.5km, from the parking lot, down to the river, then back up past the playground. L and I do this loop often in the evenings: an after-dinner stroll to settle our bellies and spirits.
Reading: “For us to be fully effective as a humans, entertainment is a critical outlet, because otherwise we might just be ruminating on all the problems in the world, sending our minds into downward spirals.”
Reading: “Pain is an inextricable thread in the fabric of life, and to tear it out is not only impossible, but destructive: attempting to tear it out unravels everything else with it.”
Sitting on the train, next to a family (a couple and their three kids) who are taking the train to the big city for the first time. The look on the faces of the children is delightful, equally full of curiousness, intrigue, excitement, and anticipation. A lovely morning commute.
Reading: “Speaking up costs us friends, jobs, credibility and invisible opportunities we’ll never even know enough about to regret.”
There are few things that make me as happy as a perfect breakfast sandwich. This look at 17 breakfast sandwiches from around the world makes me salivate.
My wife delivered a talk about HIV PrEP at a Pride Week special education session this evening; I was so proud to see her up there, making a difference in the lives of so many people in our city.
Reading: “Canadians haven’t been conditioned to see history in epic, revolutionary terms. For them, it’s more transactional: You pay your taxes, you get your government.”
Reading: “The primary experience of the adult human being continues to be rumination, with real life happening in the background.”
Reading: “Life can disappear on us just like a cup of coffee consumed on autopilot.”
Today I watched ‘The Big Sick’ and it hit pretty close to home: from an immigrant Muslim family but I’m mostly non-practicing, married a white (non-Muslim) woman, didn’t follow my parents’ expected career aspirations, etc. I’m not used to seeing myself represented well on screen.
Reading: “You can try to create around you a little bit of space that is all your own, a place where the rules of interaction you’ve chosen make sense and your actions have integrity.”
Jon Bois’ “17776” bills itself as episodic fiction about the future of football, but it’s really a rumination on meaning, loss, purpose, and time. It’s beautiful and poignant and fascinating and you should read it.
Reading: “Technological breakthroughs that make clean energy cheaper than fossil fuels would also make it easier to develop the political will for rapid action.”
My backyard is filled with fireflies, their lights flickering on and off melodically—a type of luminescent symphony. I sit at the window, mesmerized.
Things I learned this morning: don’t try to set up a new Sonos speaker while drinking coffee or the cat will freak out and run across the coffee table and knock over your favorite Le Creuset mug, breaking it into pieces and spilling your coffee.
“In a soulmate we find not company, but a completed solitude.” -Robert Brault
Love this: Letters and Liquor is an illustrated history (with stunning hand-lettering) of the most important drinks in the cocktail canon.
Reading: “I find myself constantly reminding people that thinking is an activity too. Yet how much time do you really make for it?”
A family member on my wife’s side breeds, raises, and trains falcons. This afternoon, we spent some time on their farm admiring the beautiful birds and learning more about them. They really are majestic, smart, gorgeous creatures.
Reading: “Procurement challenges show the need for continued focus on bringing more technical talent into government service.”
We used wavway to create an all-Canadian playlist for our drive from Toronto to London this evening and were thoroughly impressed. Great way to discover more Canadian music.
There a few senstations that will linger: the feel of cobblestone beneath my feet, the smell of grilled sardines, the cacaphony of a tram careening through winding streets, the taste of salt on lips after swimming in the sea, the sight of stacked rooftops from our windows.
Off to the airport after a wonderful vacation. The last day of a trip is always bittersweet: sadness to be leaving an exciting séjour, ending an adventure, but happiness that comes from the nostalgia for home, the yearning for routine, normalcy, and comfort of the every day.
I rarely enjoy driving at home, on roads that I know and in a car that I own, so it was no surprise that I found driving this tiny electric car around the narrow, steep, crowded, foreign roads of Sintra one of the most stressful parts of the trip.
Still, Sintra is as beautiful as you imagine: a real-life fairytale world.
I wrote a short musing on São Bento station and my love of beautiful, art-filled train stations.
Reading: “In an age of increasing privatization, there’s a case to be made for putting effort into the design of democratic spaces. It reminds us that creativity can have a place in the daily rush of urban life.”
In the midst of snorkeling, admiring seahorses all around us, we realized that the anchor had slipped; our boat had drifted away to shore. We were rescued from our “lost at sea” moment by a passing fisherman—it was a frightening-at-first, but ultimately memorable adventure.
We are in a small, sleepy fishing village, just outside a small, less-sleepy town in the Algarve. There are few, if any, tourists; we intend to live as locals, as much as we can, for the next few days.
A glass of sangria and a piece of pie and the sound of fadistas singing the melancholic songs of fado throughout the room. A night of beauty, music, and saudade.
Still keep coming back to this majestic piece of street art.
Today, we sat where the river meets the ocean, where the fishing boats come in to drop off the day’s fresh catch, where the gardens curve as if all roads lead to the water, where the rushing tributary surrenders to the vast, yet calm, expanse of the unknown of the sea ahead.
A day spent exploring historic architecture, tasting port, eating excellent meals, and enjoying the sights and sounds on both sides of the Douro river.
The city is quiet at sunrise; not a single car passes me as I stroll along the cobblestone streets. I wave hello to the half-dozen people milling about, most heading to the train station on their way to work. The sounds of birds singing echo through the narrow laneways.
Even after a delectable dinner at Belcanto last night (the inventiveness blew me away) we could not say no to a poolside breakfast. With full bellies, we now head north on the train.
Checked into the hotel—one of the nicest we’ve ever stayed at—and immediately went for lunch at a rooftop bar with a gorgeous view of the old city. An auspicious beginning, despite the 113° weather, to our little escape.
At the airport, waiting for our flight to start boarding. Late nights at the airport are interesting: the hubbub is softer, the activity is slower. Everyone is ready to sleep, but holding out for a few more minutes to get on the plane before they take their slumber.
Reading: “To be alone, after all, is to admit to that rare quality: a contentment with one’s self.”
Leigh Ann Lunsford: “My grandmother once told me, ’Relationships are work, honey, and they aren’t 50/50. Some days when I get up, I only feel like giving 10% — then your granddaddy has to give 90% that day. But there is always 100% love.”
Reading: “The priorities are not to make cities smart, or even wise. The first priority has to be making our cities just.”
Reading: “In the current era of sports, the best players achieved superstardom in the same way as any other generation, but now they are staying there for longer than ever before, becoming legends and being the best in the game at the same time.”
I’ve eaten many excellent, incredible, extraordinary meals, but there have been very few meals (Alinea, Cal Pep, The Ledbury) that I can truly call transcendental. Last night, at Backhouse, I had one of those—definitely worth a visit if you’re in the Niagara-on-the-Lake area.
Reading: “The Internet has centralized into a very few hands. We have an extremely lucrative apparatus of social control, and it’s being run by chuckleheads. The American government is also being run by chuckleheads.”
I loved Wonder Woman for many reasons, but what really resonated with me was to see a character that shares my name (Sameer) and who had the same skin color and mannerisms as I do, on the big screen, and not as an object of simply ridicule. Brava, and thank you, Patty Jenkins.
My love gets discharged from the hospital tomorrow. This has been a long, tiring, often-heartbreaking two weeks; it is never easy to see the people you love be unwell, and even harder when you are helpless to do anything to make it better.
Reading: “For all its magnificent intricacy and beauty, the show he produced is a work of creative non-fiction, not public-interest journalism. The difference matters.”
Even in a city as big as Toronto, in an airport as busy as YYZ, you’re bound to run into people you know at the Starbucks in the middle of the terminal. It is, after all, the “watering hole” of the airport desert: a place of sustenance, but mostly a place of congregation.
Reading: “This is the work of writing and editing for social change. Every word matters, and yet there is no perfect word, only imperfect alternatives.”
Still can’t fathom how someone could willingly take away access to healthcare from anyone — if anything, we should be going over-and-above to ensure the health of the people around us, because it makes us stronger as a society.
If you take the VIA Rail train to Toronto in the morning, you undoubtedly end up ordering the coffee. Even if you come armed with your own cup, you inevitably end up asking for the VIA Rail brew when the cart pushes by…
Reading: “To be on is to be alive, energetic, aflame, to display one’s best self. Similarly, on is language’s best self, demonstrating how much can be done with so little.”
Something new, something strange, something exciting, something confusing. Something to try, something to learn, something to explore, something to enjoy. Let’s get this something started.