Spanish Inquisition

I gave my first full lecture for a university class yesterday. The lecture was for a survey course, which meant I had to cover a lot of ground and couldn’t really get into too much detail. The topic? The Inquisition and the Jews in the Early Modern period. The lecture went well, I invited some colleagues to come and write a report about it for me but what I really wanted to show was this:

November 20, 1999

We met over a postcard. It was September 1, 1996 and I had been on the internet for about six months. We both used to hang out in chat rooms through IRC and one day I asked people to send me postcards from where they lived. I collected postcards, you see. I was also fascinated about knowing more about other places, languages and cultures. He sent me a private message asking me for my address and promised a postcard from Montreal, where he lived. All I knew about Canada at that point was that it was the land of the totem poles and grand British buildings (I had been to Victoria, BC, when I was 7 years old). I also had vague notions that some parts of the country spoke French. So we started talking. We found we had much in common. So we started looking for each other every night. Soon we were talking for 3-4 hours every day. Sometimes for 8 hours straight. We had exchanged pictures during the first week but he avoided telling me his age. I knew he was much older but didn’t know how much. But it didn’t matter when he could read my mind and finish my sentences from 7,000 miles away. We soon discovered we were soul mates, we fell in love. Eleven months later I would come to Montreal to take an English course and we would meet for the first time. We were 100% comfortable with each other from the very first moment, there was no awkwardness or embarrassing silent moments. People who believe in re-incarnation might be on to something; it feels like we’ve been together for generations. We married as soon as I graduated from university in Brazil and today we celebrate 9 years of marriage and we are as in love and as attentive to each other as in those early days. We are so comfortable that we forget our anniversary every year. The only reason we remembered in the first year was because my mother called. Thank God for modern technology – I was able to write this post a week ago and post it today, before I forgot again.

Happy anniversary sweety.

PS: we talked so much that first day when he asked me for my address that I think we both forgot what initiated the conversation. While he sent me many postcards, letters and gifts later, that initial postcard was never sent.

Update

Thank you for the anniversary wishes! To celebrate, we went out to La Palette, a little French bistro at Kensington Market. We had been there before for lunch and were very impressed so decided to try it for dinner. French food always does it for us. It takes us back to some of the most romantic dates we’ve had. It’s not just the food – it has to do with the ambiance, the sound of the French language, the lingering meal… We had the $50 five-course tasting menu and although it was very good, I’m not sure it’s a better value than the $32 prix fixe menu. The wine? A Spanish one to take us back to our days in Spain…

Kiva on the news

I started lending money on Kiva two years ago. I didn’t have much money so I limited my loan to $100, which I split among four different loans. These have since been paid back, and I have re-invested the money, which have been paid back and re-invested once more. In the past two years that $100 has helped 10 different individuals or groups. I tend to favour women when I choose someone to lend to and so far have lend money to women in Togo, Samoa, Nicaragua, Indonesia, Uganda, Pakistan, and Lebanon.

The Toronto Star had an interview with one of the creators of Kiva this past week and I wanted to post it here to help spread the word about this great initiative. Check it out here.

History in the making

It was an amazing feat. Americans turned out in record numbers and people of all kinds voted for Obama. States that had been red for a long time turned blue. I’m listening to the radio now and they were just interviewing some very conservative white farmers from a small town in the US that had always been strongly Republican. This is the demographic least friendly to Obama and yet they voted democrat. Some admitted that their families had voted Republican for generations and that they grandparents were probably turning in their graves. They admit Obama grew on them over time. They were particularly impressed with his calm maturity under pressure.

What I like about Obama is precisely that. Not only his calmness, which is a nice contrast to Bush’s volatile temper, but most importantly, I admire his capacity to bring so many different people together. The United States and the world need a leader like that. And although it sounds like empty rhetoric, he is very right to highlight the fact that a first generation, African-American man was able to be elected President of the United States is such a feat and such a message to a world marked by etnic conflict. I supported Hillary in the nomination process and wasn’t too keen on Obama. But like those American farmers, I grew to admire the man. I watched some of the debates and was very impressed by how prepared he was, how concrete his answeres were.

Obviously, being President of the United States is no easy feat and I have no illusions that Obama will be able to simply turn the US around overnight. That’s not going to happen. But he has good plans. He will get things started. And it is just good for the soul to replace a politics of fear with a politics of hope. For that alone, he would have had my vote.

I want my Canada back

Since elections is on everybody’s mind today and I’m trying not to panic watching the results roll in, I thought I’d share with you this speech given by Glen Pearson, a Liberal MP who is highly respected at Parliament Hill by all parties.

I Want My Canada Back

I’ve travelled around the world and I’ve seen how our image is failing. I want the Canada back that used to lead the world in endeavors of peace and innovation, of multiculturalism and environmental leadership.

I want the kind of Canada that would permit a person with a bit of a lisp – Lester Pearson – to go out and fight for peace around the world, win a Nobel Peace Prize, and be elected prime minister.  That’s the kind of Canada I want. Not the kind that takes a good and decent Leader of the Opposition and attacks him with negative advertising for two solid years in an attempt to convince people he’s not fit for the job of prime minister.

I want the kind of Canada that visualizes students as our ambassadors around the world, in humanitarian, business enterprise, and human rights activities – those practices which permit the world to understand what a fair and equitable place Canada is.

I want the kind of Canada where we put the word “equality” in the charter of the Status of Women. We’ve now lost that. I want the kind of country that puts that word in there and enshrines it. It took decades of struggle to get it and it’s not acceptable that we’ve taken it out.

I want the kind of Canada that says “no” to imprisoning 14-year olds for life and doesn’t condone the imprisonment of teenaged Canadians in overseas jails.

I want the kind of Canada that brings aboriginal Canadians to their full and equal status in the mainstream of Canadian life, as we did with the Kelowna Accord. This present government cut it and I want it back.

I want a Canada that accepts labor unions and understands their importance to the fabric of society, rather than continuing to attempt to defray them.

I want a Canada that will sign the Kyoto agreement and actually implement it, instead of turning our back on the international commitments we’ve made.

I want the kind of Canada we used to have, before we gave ourselves over to the politics of division and regionalism, pitting one group against another. I’ve had enough of that.

I want a national early learning and childcare program that lifts women and children out of poverty and in the process lifts our nation out of moral depravity. The present government cut it and I want it back.

I want the Canada back that I believed in when I was a student, and which we had up until a few short years ago. I’m still a student of this remarkable social and economic triumph called “Canada” and I will learn from it until my dying breath. I am now a member of parliament, one of only 300 or so in this great nation. It is my job to protect this country’s past by bringing it into an enlightened and progressive future – a Liberal future. I will expend every effort to bring it about.

For the sake of my children, my wife, and everyone in this place, my pursuit of a great Canada will be my primary thought in the coming years. I want my Canada back so that I – and we – will leave a proper legacy of peace, environmental stewardship and prosperity to the world. I want my Canada back. The world wants that Canada back. Let’s achieve that end with everything that’s great and noble in each of us.