In the southwest of the city, trees were covered in hoar frost, Christmas lights shone through halos of dense fog and there were patches of black ice on the bridge across the Bow. My mind was far away even as I listened. I had googled Cambodia before we went to the dinner invitation, but nothing could have prepared me to meet this survivor of the “killing fields.” This gifted scientist, with an unshakable belief in God, was the sole infant who somehow miraculously clung to life while hundreds of mothers’ babies lay lifeless beside him, around him, under him. He rejects the label of miracle child, preferring to travel the globe to study, to learn and to share, to either help or do no harm . . . with an intensity that can be vertiginous.

A group of Vietnamese-American immigrants compiled the following list of cultural differences (1978) shortly after arriving in the United States when they were living between two worlds. Dr. Douglas K. Chung, Professor at Grand Valley State University School of Social Work, Grand Rapids, Michigan (1992) included this comparison to enhance understanding of cultural shock that Indochinese refugees experience in Western countries.

We live in time. We live in space.
We are always at rest. We are always on the move.
We are passive. We are aggressive.
We accept the world as it is. We try to change it according to our blueprint.
We like to contemplate. We like to act.
We live in peace with nature. We try to impose our will on nature.
Religion is our first love. Technology is our passion.
We delight to think about the meaning of life. We delight in physics.
We believe in freedom of silence. We believe in freedom of speech.
We lapse in meditation We strive for articulation.
We marry first, then love. We love first, then marry.
Our marriage is the beginning of a love affair. Our marriage is a happy end of a romance.
Love is an indissoluble bond. Love is a contract.
Our love is mute. Our love is vocal.
We try to conceal it from the world. We delight in showing it to others.
Self-denial is a secret to our survival. Self-assertiveness is the key to our success.
We are taught from the cradle to want less and less. We are urged every day to want more and more.
We glorify austerity and renunciation. We emphasize gracious living and enjoyment.
Poverty is to us a badge of spiritual elevation. Poverty is to us a sign of degredation.
In the sunset years of life, we renounce the world and prepare for the hereafter. We retire to enjoy the fruits of our labor.


Dr. Douglas K. Chung, Professor at Grand Valley State University School of Social Work, Grand Rapids, Michigan (1992) included the following comparison to enhance understanding of cultural shock that Indochinese refugees experience in Western countries. A group of Vietnamese-American immigrants compiled this list of cultural differences shortly after arriving in the United States when they were living between two worlds.

Webliography and Bibliography

Chung, Douglas K. Taoism: a Portrait. http://origin.org/UCS/sbcr/taoism.cfm

Chung, Douglas K. 1992.

150, 000 visits

November 27, 2009

Near Roche Miette on the Yellowhead Highway we get stopped by a “sheep-jam”, bighorn-induced traffic congestion [1] at about the same time that we interrupted a truly engaged activist, peace rider who was cycling to Alaska to raise awareness of climate change. Just after our second sheep-jam where a film crew member also caught in the same traffic jam, pulled over to catch some sleep behind the wheel of a powerful all-terrain vehicle(did he see that many bighorn already?), we stopped to film a pack of wolves. After we booked into a place to stay in Jasper, we drove up to the ski hill at Marmot. A huge raven guided us along the winding road to the lodge. This winter there is a record snow fall to the delight of snowboarders and skiiers. The tasks of downloading the day’s film clips and photos to Picasa, and reading Gadd to name peaks, etc, were again interrupted by Yellowhead wildlife. Wapitii surrounded the hotel attracting amateur photographers to the unbelievably fun shot of a wapiti posing in front of the Wapiti signage.

Later on the same day speechless hits reached 150, 000 perhaps at exactly the same time we were left speechless by the miyat.

Speechless began as the next step from “beached wail” a failed attempt to overcome serious creative blocks . . .

Speechless does not really require the author to write. Web 2.0 platforms are ideally designed for writers who cannot write. At least for writers who cannot write in a straight line. Rhizomic thinkers and learners can allow themselves to “get lost.” All we need to do is to mark the virtual trail with something more solid than breadcrumbs.

Speechless cannot imagine faces or stories of its visitors and would rather that for now at least, that the speechless face be faceless, ageless, genderless, not associated with any institution, or group, or ideology, or demographics . . .

Speechless shares resources using the Creative Commons,
for memory work,
for revisiting histories with an ethical dimension,
for virtual tourists,
for the blogosphere,
for public policy,

Speechless has been a technological tool for mind-mapping . . .


1. See Ben Gadd 2008:408. Gadd explained that the bighorn sheep ovis canadensis, are plentiful in this area and female and young are often sighted here.

He claimed that the mountain named in the 1820s by voyageurs Roche Miette (Miette Rock) probably comes from the Cree word miyat (bighorn sheep). This tangible (very geological) link to the early (fur) trade routes is one way that the nonlinear learner can be pulled in so many directions that only web 2.0 platforms and applications could mind map it.

Gadd also notes a number of commonplace Canadian English misprononciations and/or mispellings of geological formations and place names in the Rocky Mountains with Spanish, French, Irish, Cree, Ojibwa etc origins.

Webliography and Bibliography

Gadd, Ben. 2008. Canadian Rockies: Geology Road Tours. Corax.

Does the City of Calgary use its own WaterWise Gardening and Planting advice along its bike paths, walking trails and public green spaces within the city? This question arose at the City’s booth at the 2009 EcoLiving Fair held at the Mount Royal University campus, September 26 & 27, 2009. There are lots of native plants in the “Special Protection Natural Areas” around the city but not in these other spaces that now seem to have the ubiquitous Canadian coast-to-coast urban plants. Calgary has such a unique setting and ecosystem with stunning visual potential for planned urban local/native/wild flowers.

Apparently it has been a hard sell for local suppliers such as ALCLA Native Plant Restoration Inc competing against petunias.

WaterWise workshop leaders encourage Calgary gardeners to go ditch-diving for native wild plants. But our ditches have pretty slim picking. The incredibly hardy and year-round attractive and useful Kinnikinnick, aka Bearberry or Arctostaphylos uva-ursi is not easy to find in Calgary in city parks let alone ditches (although robust 3.5″ plugs in ‘deep root trainers’ are available at Bow Point Nursery).

Why is there not more sweetgrass Hierachloe odorata planted ?

Plants that are abundant on the lands of the Tsuu T’ina Nation for example could easily be grown anywhere in Calgary with less cost and maintenance than the urban selections we now have. If the city set the example by changing the aesthetic perhaps private corporations and business owners would include more low-maintenance but high-impact native plant varieties. We would also be encouraging local entrepreneurs who have already begun to shift.

Familiarity with native plants could be much enhanced by having more of them in urban parks-perhaps even labelled as hardy native plants-in urban areas and eventually gardeners would surely be attracted to these healthy alternatives.

There are several local small businesses that market native wild plants while slowly educating the public to a shift in aesthetics towards water-wise planting. Bow Point Nursery, has its own glossary of native plants. Bow Point Nursery is also a reliable place to get Sheep’s Fescue seed and extraordinary lawn grass substitute that can be over-seeded with great results in three years. Laureen Rama was at the EcoLiving Fair with huge bins of Sheep’s Fescue seed and very practical hints. For more info on her services visit Eco-yards. The ALCLA Native Plant Restoration Inc. includes this long list of native plants they have available.


1. Dorothy Harvie Gardens at the Calgary Zoo use ‘deep root trainers’. Root trainer cell packs for seedlings encourage deep root growth, reducing the risk of stress when planted.

2. Westgro Horticultural Supplies Inc., 1557 Hastings Crescent SE, Calgary, AB T2G 4C8, Canada and Professional Gardener Co Ltd
915 23 Avenue Se, Calgary, AB T2G 1P1 -Telephone : 403-263-4200 both have ‘deep root trainers.’

3. Arctostaphylos uva-ursi – Kinnikinnick – Low mat forming evergreen groundcover. Dark green, leathery leaves, turn red in full sun. Small red berries. Full sun or shade. (Bow Point Nursery glossary).

4. Calgary and Area Native Plant Nurseries and Services: Bow Point Nursery, Springbank, 403-686-4434, www.bowpointnursery.com, for native trees and shrubs, and low-maintenance grass seed. Also for composted soil, compost, wood chip mulch, wooden rounds; ALCLA Native Plant Restoration, 3208 Bearspaw Drive, NW, Calgary, AB, 403-282-6515, www.alclanativeplants.com for native perennial flowers and native grass seed mixes; Wild About Flowers, Turner Valley, 403-933-3903, www.wildaboutflowers.ca for native perennial flowers and native grass mixes; Laureen Rama’s Eco-yards.

5. Calgary-based author and gardener, Donna Balzer’s list of water-wise plant recommendations for Calgary gardens which includes many native plants available on the City of Calgary’s website.

Following in the footsteps of great Western philosopher’s peripatetic origins (Socrates, Nietzsche, Rousseau, Kierkegaard and Walter Benjamin) Writer and Director Astra Taylor invited Cornel West (Cultural Studies scholar and campaign advisor to Barack Obama), Avital Ronell (who co-taught a graduate course with the late Jacques Derrida), Peter Singer, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Martha Nussbaum, Michael Hardt, Slavo Zizek, Judith Butler and her own sister Sunara Taylor to walk the talk while examining contemporary social and ethical issues in her 2008 documentary The Examined Life. Following Philadelphia curator and academic Aaron Levy’s suggestion that camera shy or timid speakers might be more comfortable walking, and enthused by Rebecca Solnit’s book Wanderlust, “a magisterial history of walking,” Astra Taylor decided to ask the big questions using the peripatetic approach. She filmed Cornel West in the back of a New York city cab as it wove through traffic. Peter Singer navigated Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue , a high-end shopping area with luxury items reflected in windows and on shopping bags flashing behind him. She chose a garbage dump as backdrop for Slavoj Zizek’s conversation on ecology. In this a series of vignettes she attempts to demonstrate the accessibility of philosophy, reiterating Isaiah Berlin and Bertrand Russell that, “the central visions of the great philosophers are essentially simple.” Through this documentary she stresses the urgency for a philosophy with a cosmopolitical point of view as “the myriad problems facing us [in our broken world . . . one beset by problems both interpersonal and political], demand more thinking than ever, not less.” Philosophy helps us to “search for meaning and our responsibilities to others in a [world] full of inequity and suffering.”






HMS Victory

January 19, 2009

HMS Victory
Victory in a Fishbowl

Victory in a Fishbowl ocean.flynn.

In mid-January the Calgary sun shines on the kitchen table inviting me to play with light and reflections. I used separate images of the stern and starboard of HMS Victory from models, layered images of our fish, light effects, etc to enhance the original photo.

Home Depot Coach Lights
First Snow: Home Depot Coach Lightsocean.flynn.

Displays of illuminated miniature Victorian villages are one of the cheery aspects of Canadian winters that I enjoy. Perhaps that’s why I was drawn to these lights for our walkway . . .

These coach lights came from Home Depot on 11320 Sarcee Trail NW Calgary. They have made our little corner feel so much safer. The Victorian coach light seems to shine brighter through fresh snow.

Every time we return home after dark . . .
When I turn on the lights at dusk . . .
Seeing them covered in snow . . .
Knowing we’re using ecology-friendly bulbs in them . . .
I am grateful . . .

Note: January is a great time to check out clearance specials at incredibly low prices at Calgary’s Beacon Hill Home Depot, 11320 Sarcee Trail NW, Calgary, AB T3R 0A1 (403) 374-3860 STORE HOURS: M-F 7AM-10PM, SAT 7AM-8PM, SUN 8AM-6PM

Calgary sunlight in January 2009 with artist reflected in vase . . .

From MyArtWork
From MyArtWork

Compare the image from the free account at Picasaweb (1600×1200 pixels – 261KB) with the following (1024 x 768) from the free account at Flickr:

New Blue Spherical Reflection

New Blue Spherical Reflection,
originally uploaded by ocean.flynn.