Archive for August, 2012

Happy birthday, Dad!

George Basil turns 80 today. He’s the handsome guy in the photo above, next to my Mom, a few years ago in Montreal.

American Senses

Apartments above the great Fifth Avenue Sandwich Shop, in Olympia Washington

There’s barely a week left in my Olympian summer.

New mural (detail) near Percival Landing, Olympia

I would return in a minute.

Band of Olympians

The vibe is civilized and tolerant – that is to say, it is truly *hip*. On many nights there’s a happy racket of music and loud post-outings conversation in my neck of the woods, downtown in the historic district. I’m going to feel very much like an American again when I get off the train in Vancouver this Labo(u)r Day.

Old cities, old friends …

The proud seal for the Buffalo Seminary, “Western New York’s Only Independent College Preparatory School for Girls”

A few years back, Kato Kaelin (OJ Simpson’s noted house-guest) was being interviewed by Jay Leno, who asked Kaelin how he dealt with all of the derision and mockery he’d received. “My old friends were with me. You can’t make new old friends,” he said, with a wisdom I hadn’t anticipated.

I think of that line a lot.

It seems perhaps too obvious even to note, but you have to be well into middle age before you can have the experience of enjoying things that go on and on for a very long time, like decades-long friendship, and like loyalty that lasts even when you are being a problem, and like the way a city like Buffalo, NY – its people and indeed the neighborhoods themselves, too, it seems – can remember and welcome you.

– Photo by Miles Basil

Kwantlen colleagues moving on …

You can’t step into the same river twice.

Since I started at Kwantlen in 2003, I have been helped every step of the way by two people: Dr. Arthur Coren, Dean of the School of Business, and David Wiens, Associate Dean of the School of Business and formerly a faculty member in my home department, Applied Communications.

In July it was announced that Arthur had accepted the presidency of University Canada West and would assume his new position there on September 4. Then last week, Kwantlen announced that David would be retiring this fall, after 28 years at the school.

I welcome a new era, as we all must, because the river flows, but I’m going to miss having these two fabulous people around, very very much.

[Other recent changes among the Kwantlen administration were mentioned below.]

This Train Goes …

… where I want to go, up and down across the border between the United States and Canada. I ride the Cascades Line.

My iPhone blog has been pretty active this summer, recording sights and thoughts from these two nations that enchant me, and where people I love live.


“Step Inside My Head”

Billy Howard‘s documentary “Step Inside My Head: Teens Speak Out on Mental Health” is a very beautiful and intelligent series of videos, photographs, and text interviews. One of the teens to whom Howard introduces us is named Gracie (pictured above): “I’m not ashamed of it,” says Gracie of her ‘bipolar disorder,’ “so I just let [people] know.”

Howard is an Atlanta-based photographer and a 2011-2012 Rosalynn Carter Fellow in Mental Health Journalism. He is a really wonderful artist.

High-level Kwantlen Administrator Steps Down

Dr. Anne Lavack, Vice President (Academic) and Provost at Kwantlen Polytechnic University, is leaving after little more than a year on the job, University President John McKendry, PhD, announced today, adding: “I thank Dr. Lavack for her service and wish her the very best in her future career.”

I found Dr. Lavack to be a refreshingly lucid colleague. I hope she has all the luck in the world.

Addendum (17 Aug.):

On September 1, Dr. Alan Davis will become Kwantlen’s new president – the fourth university president we will have had since 2008.

Gordon Lee will become Pro Tem VP (Academic), replacing Dr. Lavack, and he will be the fourth VP – Academic the university has had *since 2010*.

I must say, Kwantlen Polytechnic University is a very sturdy, innovative institution. I admire our administrators and the work they do. The university itself, though – its students, faculty, and all of its staff – goes from success to success no matter who, nominally, is in charge, or what challenges we face.


Some of the most generous people I know have few friends, or none at all. They cannot submit to reciprocal favours, to having others give back to them.

And after some point … when you refuse a gift, you lose a giver.

Sylvester Park Scene

A very friendly and happening foursome in the park up the street from me this afternoon.

Oh, Happy Divorce!

A good friend of mine announced yesterday on Facebook, “I am now legally divorced.” His next FB update: “It’s ok to ‘like’ my divorce. I do.”

Best possible miserable situation.

One Can’t Replace a Correspondent

A love that has *no* letters is more likely to be … reassigned.

“Catatonic insomniac lying in the grass. / What is she thinking of, overlooked by everybody? /A long embrace, though you won’t see it on her face. … Feels like an end, so much unsaid.” – Juliana Hatfield

[Apropos the great Juliana Hatfield, she has an album of covers coming out later this month. I have pre-ordered mine.]

“Safety Not Guaranteed”

I quite liked this little movie. So much about it is still bouncing about in my head. Does love need a time machine? Is love *itself* a time machine? What on earth does it take to be bold? Oh, et cetera.

God Bless Pussy Riot

“The system cannot conceal the repressive nature of this trial.”

The band’s boldness and bravery are beautiful. If the Riot Grrrl movement started and then flourished in Olympia and the Pacific northwest, it has reached its apotheosis in Moscow. These musicians will never be chained.

[*Update*: Here are the complete final statements, from all of the defendants, who were convicted today and sentenced to two years in prison. The insight and eloquence – and indeed the kindness – of these words take my breath away. – 17 August]

Slim Pickings …

Please pardon the mid-summer drought! I took a rare vacation last week (to Whistler, BC – my first time) and have been putting together this fall’s classes. And, to tell you the truth, I am just not writing much these days, though I do sit down at the keyboard every day, as the Muse requires. Waiting is everything, and so is surprise.