Monday, November 30, 2009

Gay Rights and the Wrongs that go with it

Yesterday morning a friend and I attended a Global Rights seminar on the University campus. It was: "A Conversation on the Commonwealth and LGBTI advocacy: sharing experiences and discussing strategies." It was part of the CHOGM agenda. The audience was small and consisted mainly of foreign delegates.

It was advertised as starting at nine a.m. Of course, being Trinidad, nothing started until about 10-ish. My friend and I were there before nine. Just after we arrived, an older man came up to where we were sitting. He was looking for the seminar. He told us he was from the media and the newsroom had sent him on assignment to cover "the talk about sex".

"If it's the same seminar we're going to, then it's not about sex," I said. "It's about Gay Rights."

"Well, same thing," he replied flippantly.

"No, it's not the same thing," I told him. "People think that all gay people do is have sex. This is about the rights of normal, everyday people living everyday lives."

Although, unfortunately, not so 'everyday' in various ways. Take the extreme example of the abominable situation in Uganda:

The Anti-Homosexuality Bill, introduced in October, would expand punishment for homosexual acts to include life imprisonment and in some cases would exact capital punishment. The letter is signed by Alan Chambers, president of the Orlando-based Exodus International; Randy Thomas, the group's executive vice president; Christopher Yuan, professor at Moody Bible Institute; and Warren Throckmorton, a member of the Clinical Advisory Board of the American Association of Christian Counselors. Homosexuality already is illegal in Uganda, punishable by up to 14 years imprisonment. Gay men and women who have HIV would receive the death penalty under the new legislation.

Our Prime Minister's response to the above-mentioned modernday witch hunt leaves much to be desired:

PORT OF SPAIN, Trinidad and Tobago — Prime Minister Patrick Manning of Trinidad and Tobago, who plays host to a meeting of Commonwealth leader beginning here Friday, drew furious criticism Thursday when he dismissed human rights as domestic issues that have no place on the summit agenda.

At meetings ahead of the summit, human rights groups have been urging the leaders, including Prime Minister Stephen Harper, to pressure Uganda to drop proposed legislation that calls for the execution of HIV-infected gays and lesbians and to sanction President Yahya Jammeh of Gambia for threatening to kill human-rights activists in his country.

"Individual countries have their own positions on these matters," Manning said, "but it doesn't form part of our agenda. It need not detain us."

Human Wrongs with no interest in Human Rights. Or rather, with no interest in Humans other than themselves.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Are you in for INTIMACY?

A gentle touch

The Launch of INTIMACY (window lamp) is on Sunday 6th Dec from 6 - 7 p.m. at Moksha Yoga Studio, POS. Thank you, Karen (Blackman) for use of the space. I chose this venue because it is peaceful, quiet and intimate ... just what we will need to have the experience.

I'm inviting 20 people. So far, ten slots are filled. Ten open. First come, first served.

If you are interested in being a part of the experience, write me or leave your name here by Saturday 28th November ... only if you are serious about coming. Accepting this invitation requires being open to interacting as requested.

Since you won't know what is being requested until you get there, you'll just have to trust me.

Invites go out on Monday with some details. The inter-activity will be revealed on the night. Simple and intimate. Nothing to fear ... only to discover.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009


Yesterday I was wearing one of my Canada t-shirts when I went to the cinema. A tall man heading in my direction stopped me and said pleasantly: "Hi! Are you Canadian or are you just wearing the t-shirt?"

I sincerely felt my heart say 'yes' (to the first part of his question), but since it's not 'true' in a factual nationality sense (i.e. where I was born/citizenship), I said "I love Canada."

His face immediately lit up: "I'm from Calgary!"

My face also lit up. "Canada is my favourite place." (At least as far as I know right now)

"Thank you!" he said and we nodded and went our separate ways.

Just as I walked off, a friend called me on my cellular. We spoke for a while. As we were closing the conversation, she said to me "So what time are you leaving tomorrow for Cana ..." then she stopped and said "I mean, Tobago?" (I had told her earlier that day that I wouldn't be able to attend a play she's in tonight because I'll be in Tobago - working, not playing). "Why would I be thinking Canada?" she laughed.

I told her about the Canadian man I'd encountered just two minutes before.

"Sun, that's a sign," she said. ("Sun" is her nickname for me).

About five minutes later, another friend (the travel agent who booked my ticket to Canada this summer and extended it when I decided to stay on) came up to me. As we walked into the cinema, she said "So you're not going to Canada for Christmas?"

I said to her: "You're the third person in about 5 - 10 minutes who has mentioned Canada to me!"

"Something there is calling you," she said matter-of-factly.

As always.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

The Light of Intimacy

Outdoors working on the lamp this evening. Note the Braille words "written" by the light rays of sunset, through the lamp and onto the wall of the house.
As of this evening, the window lamp Nicole H. ordered is almost completely finished. All that's left is to add the actual light fixture.

In other news:

1. I changed my mind and ended up using the actual window after all. However I did make a few minor adjustments and a simple addition.
I noticed this little heart today on the right side of the lamp.

2. Just before working on the lamp this afternoon, I heard a phrase in my head: "In to me see" ... which alerted me. You may have already heard "in to me see" as another way of saying "Intimacy". The name of this lamp is therefore INTIMACY.

"Intimacy/In to me see" fits perfectly with the Braille theme ... sensing more than what is ... trusting enough to venture beyond the surface and explore new depths (and heights). The light of INTIMACY guides, gently illuminating and enlightening.

The launch of INTIMACY will be a simple, intimate gathering ... with some unexpected touches.

Date/time/venue will be announced once the lamp is complete and I have worked out specifics.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Memories of being chased by an angry, toothless monk

This is my second post for today. Upon finding the above photo which I featured in my other post, it brought back some monastery memories. Mount St. Benedict (monastery) is up the mountain, a few minutes from where I live. I don't go there often now, but years ago I used to go almost daily to breeze out, relax, think, etc.

Years ago one of the monks (Bro. Tony) asked me to come and help him develop ideas for turning a house of interesting monastery artifacts into a museum. While perusing the items I saw the wooden chair (seen in above photo). I was drawn to its simplicity and presence. I saw myself driving around with it in the car, taking photos of it in different places, either empty or with people sitting in it, interviewing them. When the monk (Brother Tony) saw my interest in it, he told me I could have it. It had been made ages ago by an old monk and no one was using it.

It did end up being a part of some of my projects - the most recent being "Out of the Box" (2008) - a short documentary created by teen schoolgirls, an HIV positive woman and myself.
But ... the classic memory that this chair brings back ironically occurred on the premises of that same building that Bro Tony was turning into a museum. Years before, it was lived in by an old Monk - Brother Cornelius (as a friend and I discovered later). My friend Salim had come to visit me on this particular day and we had gone traipsing up to the Mount to explore. Upon reaching the building, we spotted many fruit trees in the bushes below. We clambered down the steep incline, and, "trespassing", proceeded to climb trees, picking fruit - limes, plums and if I remember correctly, one or two mangoes. Praedial larceny.

We sat in the trees, eating fruit, talking and, when finished, we clambered back up the hill, our hands full of 'produce'. As Salim was coming up, he stopped (I think to hand something to me). All of a sudden a hand shot out of a nearby window and grabbed him - I think by his shoe. A dark, grimacing, twisted toothless face with red eyes was at the other end of the arm. Salim managed to twist his way free and the two of us pelted down the hill with our limes in our hands.

"Pelt the limes away! Pelt the limes away!" Salim shouted as we ran.

As we pelted them into the bushes we became aware of the sound of a vehicle speeding up behind us. We looked back to see the dark toothless man, pursuing us in a white pick up truck. We ran into a bushy track at the side of the road and, thinking we were safe from him, stopped, breathing sighs of relief and exhaustion.

Too soon! He had parked his pick up truck at the other end of the track and was advancing towards us brandishing a large piece of wood. We stood there as he neared us, mainly grimacing at Salim. He said: "Gimme de limes! Gimme de limes!"

"Turn out yuh pockets!" he shouted at us.

We turned out our empty pockets.

With one last grimace, he told Salim: "If you wasn't wit a woman ah woulda beat yuh here today!"

I had forgotten about that until I saw this old photo of the chair today. Apart from a few small details (like which part of Salim was grabbed by the hand), I remember the day vividly.

I saw Brother Cornelius years later. He was older, in a wheelchair and didn't look as terrifying. I don't think he remembered me.


A fitting sign to see on the drive back from Toco

How ironic! I typed Toco, Trinidad into Google to put a link for those who don't know what & where Toco is. I found the series of images you'll see when you click on the Toco link in the above caption. Lo and behold, one of the images I spotted immediately was one I took years ago at Mission Bay, which is exactly where I ended up when I went on the recent drive mentioned in the above caption. See the image (Beach chair) below.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Had I not gone to Toronto this summer ...

Leaf under pine tree near driveway

Yesterday, dropping my nephew Liu (age 10) to school, he asked me out of the blue if I knew a particular little girl in his class.

Me: No. Is she your best friend?
Liu: No. But she's my good friend.
Me: What's the difference between a good friend and a best friend?
Liu (long pause as he tries to figure it out ... and then a shrug): I dunno.

Maybe he's right. We dunno. I don't have one best friend. But I have good friends whom I could also refer to as 'some of my best friends'.

Two of my 'best friends' live about 5 - 10 minutes walk from each other. Even though they've lived in such proximity for many years and knew each other on a "Hi, how are you?" and casual conversation basis , they had never spent time together on their own and didn't know each other in a deeply personal way. G saw N as "Spec's good friend, N" and she saw him as "Spec's good friend, G".

When I went to Canada, they were both missing me - since we talk almost daily, see each other fairly often and, if either of them has something personal they need to discuss, they come to me (and vice versa). One day, in my absence, N called G to find out (in her words): "How he was managing without his best friend" ...

The rest is history. To cut a long (but rapid) and previously-unimagined-by-all-parties story short, they are now happily engaged! Within 5 weeks. They had struggled to keep their excitement and their news a secret from me while I was away. I found out on the night I returned, when they both came to pick me up from the airport.

To this day, in a way, the three of us still can't believe it. We keep marveling at the fact that had I not gone to Toronto and extended my stay, the two of them may never have come together as life partners. Everything happens for a reason and in its own perfect way and timing.

Why I'm mentioning this today (to use my nephew's phrase), I dunno. Maybe just to say that when it comes to the love of your life, you just dunno ... who, when, where and how.

Monday, November 16, 2009

What the Lamp is

Today you will understand the main concept behind this current 'window' lamp.

According to this dictionary, a lamp is:
1.a. A device that generates light, heat, or therapeutic radiation.
1.b. A vessel containing oil or alcohol burned through a wick for illumination.
2. A celestial body that gives off or reflects light.

3. Something that illumines the mind or soul.

Based on this definition, Nicole's lamp is (among other things):
#1 a. Therapeutic radiation
#3. Something that illumines the mind or soul

It is not meant to be a reading lamp.

A friend of mine was spot on in a comment she wrote for me about the last lamp update:

"Spec, the fragments of light look like braille, kinda in sync with having to feel what the lamp may be trying to say at this point. Lovely!"


How blind are we all in the darkness of mind or soul, prior to illumination (enlightenment)? In requesting this lamp, Nicole wanted to consciously see her way regarding the 20 things she listed as wanting to change/incorporate in her life. As you will remember, I wrote 20 words in response to Nicole's list of 20 'needs'.

I made contact with Steve, a blind man. I asked him to type out the 20 words for me in Braille. Inspired and excited by the words, he wholeheartedly did so.
Clarity and Self Love

On Thursday 12 November I went to the Blind School in Santa Cruz to collect the words from him. Then, using a hammer and instrument for making holes, I transcribed each of the Braille words onto a thin sheet of metal. Light passing through these holes inscribes the essence of the words in the atmosphere and on the person/people who are present.

I'm sure you are beginning to understand that this lamp (like all the others) is about intention, vibrations and essence.

As with every lamp. there will be a launch. Anyone reading this (who would like to attend) is invited to have the experience when it is time. Those who live abroad and would like to have the experience, I will find a way for you to do so.

This will be the last update on this particular Lamp until further notice. Thank you for keeping up thus far.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

Evolution of the Window Lamp

Sunlight (passing through the 'filter' of the part of the lamp I worked on today) writes on the floor

This current window lamp is taking shape quickly. As of today, all 20 words are complete. The process required a lot of hammering, some flexibility, sweating and took me at least two hours.

Because these windows are so old, some of them are damaged and in need of repairs. Mending them feels like performing surgery. Working on the physical window is like intuitively working on aspects of the new owner's energy/essence (... and, by extension, mine and that of whoever encounters the lamp).

Today I made a major physical adjustment to the window. I removed its shaky central cross, resulting in it becoming a large, open frame. This was the removal of an inner blockage, something that was not in alignment, thereby allowing energy to flow (in and out) through a clearer channel.

As soon as I removed the 'blockage', I realised that the window had already served its purpose in this process and is not meant to be an actual part of the finished lamp.

Even without the actual physical window, can it still be called a "window lamp"? Yes, it still has the essence of a window. The main part of the lamp (which I worked on today and which is made of a different material) is the portal for the light,

(To be continued ...)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Simple New Window Lamp

Look through the top right portion of the window and you will see a baptism taking place in the sea.

I refer to the window lamps I make as Three Dimensional Prayers. For those of you who don't know, I've been making window lamps for over a decade. I make one when someone orders it. The process is not just about the physical lamp. It is also about the symbolism, the interactive concept and the essence that the lamp brings to the owner (and others and me) through its light. Their purpose is healing. Just as you would go to a doctor to cure a sore throat, you can commission a lamp to help heal a particular area of your life and generate intangible gifts.

Nicole H,, who commissioned this current lamp, is willing to have it documented, to share the process with others.

The first question I asked Nicole was: What do you want this lamp to be about? What do you want it to give you?

Her answer was: SIMPLICITY

This will therefore be a very simple lamp. As you can see in the above photo, it is a small one (the smallest to date).

I asked Nicole to write a list of 20 things in her life that she would like to simplify ... things that would make her life easier. Her answers included:
- To be able to express myself in a clear manner (verbally and in writing)
- To always be able to do the thing I love the most - help others in need
- To let go of the mistakes I have made

... and other more personal things.

For each sentence she wrote, I chose a single word that 'answered it' - providing what she would need to achieve her desire of simplicity and lightness in relation to the particular issue.

- To be able to express myself in a clear manner (verbally and in writing) = CLARITY
- To always be able to do the thing I love the most - help others in need = SERVICE

All 20 words are the gifts that this lamp will bring to Nicole and others who encounter it:

How I took these words to the next level in order to incorporate them as part of the lamp will be revealed shortly.

See this Window Lamp Retrospective for examples of a few of the many from way back when. The lamps have changed since then, becoming more simple, conceptual and interactive.

Names of some of the lamps thus far:

This current lamp has not yet been named. The name will come during the process.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Facing Life

For the past few years I have been one of the judges at the Rebirth House "Facing Life" film competition for secondary schools. This year I've been asked to be Head Judge for the event (Facing Life Nine).

Date: Friday 6th November 2009
Time: 8 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Venue: Andre Kamperveen Hall, Centre of Excellence, Macoya
All are invited.
Admission: donations welcome.

Rebirth House is a centre for primary, secondary and tertiary prevention of drug abuse. Themes therefore always revolve around substance abuse and its impact on our lives. Tomorrow, 10-minute awareness-raising films produced by students of 12 national secondary schools will explore the issue through this year's theme: "Highs and Lows".

Also on the day:
- Entertainment
- Motivational speakers
- Lunch
- Refreshments.

An interesting, entertaining and educational experience for those who have the time to attend (some or all of the event).

All are welcome.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Full Moon Prize for J & K

I said I would create a piece of music for whoever chose the winning name for my new EMU midi controller. The keyboard is now called Clé Raga thanks to dual winners Kathryn in Trinidad and Jayme in Toronto. Congratulations.

The resulting piece of music (I decided to go with whatever I created upon first trying out the new keyboard) accompanies the above video which I shot last night on the way home from a yoga reunion.

Dev is driving. The motion of the car as I point my camera up causes the moon to bounce. Note how the upcoming streetlights give the feeling of zooming through planets.