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I can’t seem to help skipping a day or two these days. It’s a cliché, because it’s true (cliches usually are; that’s whey they’re clichés), there aren’t enough hours in the day, some days, most days. And as the days chug along I keep having more and more reactions to things that I want to write about. Yesterday, for example, I attended a memorial tribute to a writer friend who left us two or three years ago but who died only a few weeks ago. (They shoot horses, don’t they? And dogs are put down. But that’s another discussion, one that few people are ready to tackle.) I go to many more “tributes” or “celebrations” these days than funerals. Funerals are held in churches followed by a reception afterwards in the “parlour” or in the deceased’s home. Celebrations are held in public (semi-public, small or large depending on the fame and financial status of the departed), with wine (free or cash bar) and finger foods, like a party. Secular, to say the least. With so many lifestyles and belief systems to choose from these days, there don’t seem to be many universal words of comfort available.

It can no longer be taken for granted that the dear departed was a man of honour or a woman of faith. Core values are obscured or unrecognizable, if indeed, they ever existed. If the person being sent off with a toast and a fare-thee-well led a less than exemplary life, the sad or reprehensible facts of that life are not mentioned. Instead, we are offered cute or amusing anecdotes or/and a roster of worldly achievements. Of course, no one one ever mentions the immortal soul.

Are souls immortal these days?

Bodies aren’t.

And what about those core values? Google to the rescue:

Here are some examples of core values from which you may wish to choose:

  • Dependability.

  • Reliability.

  • Loyalty.

  • Commitment.

  • Open-mindedness.

  • Consistency.

  • Honesty.

  • Efficiency.

Sounds like Boy Scout qualities.

Readers sent in comments on core values. What about love? What about God? What about morals?

What are morals and where can i get some?

“A person who knows the difference between right and wrong and chooses right is moral. A person whose morality is reflected in his willingness to do the right thing – even if it is hard or dangerous – is ethical. Ethics are moral values in action.'“

in other words: moral is as moral does. Perhaps not something to juggle with a glass of wine and a potato chip. I can’t deal with this in a blog.

The old order changeth

And God fulfils himself in many ways,

Lest one good custom should corrupt the world.

Comfort thyself: what comfort is in me?

I have liv’d my life, and that which I have done

May He within himself make pure.

With that, I’l leave you. Another day, another blog.

universitas manitobensis

Roughly translated, that means the University of Manitoba, though I’ve always had my doubts about the correctness of the genitive. I’m very attached to it, though; it’s my alma mater.

Alma Mater; noun:

  1. the school, college, or university that one once attended.

  2. the anthem of a school, college, or university.

    (alma means nourishing or kind)

Nourishing is apt. One tends to take for granted all one has learned at mater’s knee (or some other low joint), absorbed at such a tender age that the knowledge has become second nature and is no longer attributable. Last night I was nourished, also stimulated and refreshed.

Like other universities, U of M holds gatherings around the country, keeping in touch with its alums and beating the drum for funds and loyalty. Last night, I thought, would be no exception, though it was different in that it offered breakfast, lunch or dinner and called it a Brand meeting. No - no capitals; we were invited to come and share our thoughts about ”the evolution of a brand”. They meant it, too. No pitch for funds, in fact, a delicious dinner with wine, followed by, instead, an interesting SWOT team of ideas. Actually, we were the team. I didn’t get the leader’s name. I will.

S W O T is an acronym based on the four components or ideas that we were led to discuss, encouraged by the informality and spontaneity of the leader, albeit he had a marker and big tear sheets - and very legible hand-writing.

S is for Strengths

W is for Weaknesses

O is for Opporttunities

T is for Threats (or Challenges - makes me think of that Chinese symbol we have been told means either opportunity or danger?

“The Chinese word for "crisis" (simplified Chinese: 危机; traditional Chinese: 危機; pinyin: wēijī) is frequently invoked in Western motivational speaking as being composed of two Chinese characters respectively signifying "danger" and "opportunity". Wikipedia. But a later note on the Google page says this is wrong. No matter, it’s “common” knowledge we have known for a long time.) So….

Almost everyone contributed, more than once. A wandering mike was at our disposal and we were encouraged to speak, anyone who felt like it, and more and more people felt like it. My table neighbour graduated in 2007; I earned my first degree in 1951. That’s a good spread of years.

My grandfather was in the first graduating class from the Manitoba Medical School in 1911; my father graduated in 1926 and my brother in 1953, the first third-generation doctor, enabled by my grandfather’s late entry. (iHis was a second trajectory career.) Anyway, there’s a wide spread of years, approaching Elise Boulding’s The Long Now, with all its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and challenges. Sooo…

Let’s hear it for the evolution of a brand. Stay tuned.