Wintry but not bleak

Extreme cold warnings greeted the New Year in Toronto. A record low temperature was recorded on January 5, a frigid -23C (that’s -9.4F). I’m happy to say that I was there to experience such a newsworthy occasion during my stay over the Christmas and New Year holidays.

Here are photos I took on that very day, January 5, 2018, witnessing an awesome sunrise over Lake Ontario. Wintry but not bleak:


Sunrise over Lk Ontario Jan 5.jpg


Inside it’s always warm. And on a cold day, looking out the window can be a meditative respite:



Artist and writer William Kurelek (1927-1977) knew how to find pleasure in the cold. Why of course, he was born in Alberta, and spent his childhood years on the prairies:



As well, Shelley’s positivism is always a boost for me. No need to wait for the groundhog. “O Wind, If Winter comes, can Spring be far behind?”

No matter what the weather, it can still be it a worthwhile year.




Year End Tally and 2012 Outlook

Lots to say on this post, but I promise you I’ll keep the pace swift. First off, a wrap-up of this my fourth year of blogging. I’m always amused to see what words people use to come to Ripple Effects. So, here are some of them over this past year.

Search Engine Terms

  • modern day insane asylum
  • stranger than fiction free will or predestination
  • Vermeer skulls
  • how many hunting license were sold before and after  the movie Bambi
  • Toronto International Film Festival social impact
  • culture and imperialism in Mansfield Park
  • Shawshank Redemption sewer pipe
  • Hemingway beaten up by Canadian authors
  • what value in life if not together
  • how to get in touch with Diane Keaton

Give you a feel of what Ripple Effects is all about, right? Yes, it’s a mixed bag of ruminations on books and films, where crawling through a sewer pipe could be noted as an existential quest, and always, a lookout for the minutest ripples of current culture… while maintaining humor and sanity doing all that. And, if you know how to get in touch with Diane Keaton, do let me know.

Most Popular Post

Slowly heading towards half a million views, this turtle does not intend  to win any races, but is glad just the same to see some posts maintaining their popularity. This is the all time most popular post:

Memorable Movie Love Quotes which I compiled and posted for Valentine’s Day 2008. I sure hope that the 24,000 views in 2011 have contributed to some consolidation (and conciliation?) of relationships.

My Personal Best Picks

There are posts people may like, there are also posts that I favour more. Books into films is Arti’s ‘specialty’, and it’s always fun to link the two, albeit I know they are distinctly different art forms.  Some of my favorite posts in 2011 are:

And that leads me to the coming new year. From my upcoming book to movie lists, I look forward to reading the following titles, as they are in development with their film adaptations:

Books to Read in 2012 (before the film comes out)

  • The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides
  • The Emperor’s Children by Claire Messud
  • Runaway (short story) by Alice Munro
  • Midnight’s Children by Salman Rushdie
  • As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner

Book Challenges in 2012

I’m excited to sign up for two Book Challenges sponsored by CarrieK. at Books And Movies.

2012 Graham Greene Challenge — What better way to delve into books and movies than reading Graham Greene, who had almost all of his works adapted into feature film or TV series. I’ve selected these titles:

  • The Quiet American
  • The End of the Affair
  • Brighton Rock


2012 Ireland Challenge — I’m to pick four titles, including fiction and non-fiction by Irish writers with setting in Ireland. Now this is uncharted water for me. I’ve John Banville and Anne Enright in my TRB pile which I want to get to, and Deirdre Madden’s book suggested by litlove. I’m open to other recommendations.

  • Molly Fox’s Birthday by Deirdre Madden
  • The Sea by John Banville
  • The Gathering or
  • The Forgotten Waltz by Anne Enright

Most Anticipated Books to be Released in 2012

  • When I Was a Child I Read Books by Marilynne Robinson
  • Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son’s First Son by Anne Lamott

I’ll be reading screenplays too. Selections will likely be driven by spur of the moment, but these I’d like to get hold of:

Screenplays to Read in 2012

  • The Descendants (see how Alexander Payne adapts from novel)
  • Midnight In Paris (Woody Allen’s always fun to read)
  • Young Adult (Screenwriter Diablo Cody’s script after Juno)

Ironically, I find reading and blogging feed my procrastination. Finishing a book or a blog post is usually the best reason to delay, pulling me away from ‘real’ writing… I still have a screenplay half finished. 2012 looks like a good year to get that done.

And then of course…

The Awards Season 2012

  • Golden Globes – Jan. 15
  • SAG Awards (Screen Actors Guild) – Jan. 29
  • BAFTA Awards (British Academy) – Feb. 12
  • WGA Awards (Writers Guild) – Feb. 19
  • Independent Spirit Awards – Feb. 25
  • The 84th Academy Awards – Feb. 26

As we edge towards the end of the year, my thanks to all who have visited, and those who have stirred up ripples by leaving their thoughts. The pond is all yours.

Best Wishes to All for a Wonderful 2012!

Happy New Year!


Those Magical Numbers: Year-End Musings


Are we coming to the end of a decade?  Or still have another year to go?  Does the new decade start with 2010, or 2011?  No matter, that debate is just academic and immaterial in light of the actual events that had taken place after we entered the new century.  From a wider perspective, it’s been a period that TIME magazine called ‘the Decade from Hell’, ‘the Reckoning’, ‘the Decade of Broken Dreams’.  Now, the new normal is recession, terrorism, climate change, pandemic.

On a personal level, a decade sounds weighty enough to send chills down the spine.  Where have all the years gone?  A decade of our life has already slipped by since the beginning of the millenium, the novelty of Y2K rubs off like the fleeting fragrance of the night-blooming flower.  Above all, how do we put into perspective a life among all the tensions on a wider scale?  Can we sculpt out a little private, inner space where peace can still thrive, and faith, hope, and love indwell despite the overwhelming odds in the outside world?


According to the liturgical calendar, Christmas celebration continues for 12 more days into the new year, until the Epiphany, January 6th.  With the backdrop of mostly negative global affairs, it’ll do us good to stretch the Christmas spirit a bit longer.  Let the joy and peace last for a few more days.  A reader has reminded me that Christmas Day is arbitrarily picked anyway.  True.  But since we’re given one day to ‘legitimately’ celebrate the birth of Christ, might as well make the best use of it… for I really don’t know how long such a tradition will last, or us given the ‘right’ to mention Christ publicly.  So it’s Epiphany then, 12 more days.  But… is that enough?  I mean the peace and joy, not the hustle and bustle.  Shouldn’t we extend the spirit of Christmas to all the days of the year?  Wouldn’t it be a better world if we let the Word dwell among us just a while longer, or in our wildest dream, let Truth and Grace prevail in every single day?


Never mind the decade, just think about the 24 hours I’m endowed with.  How should I spend my next allotment?  Not until I break down the day into 24 units can I find some pressing reality and urgency.  Years back, I used to work in a consulting firm where we had to fill in a time-sheet at the end of the day.  I had to account for my time in 15-minute units, so the firm could charge my time back to the right clients.  My boss would really frown on the category ‘general office’.  That’s what we put down when we were not actually working on a particular project, so our time is charged back to the firm.  I’m afraid it’s ‘general office’ most of the time these days… Is taking care of elderly parents ‘general office’?  umm… what about blogging?  Is it real work?  Who do I charge to?  Can I measure my time in chargeable units?


The most amazing site I’ve come across this year is Nina Sankovitch’s Read All Day.  On October 28, 2008 Nina embarked on the 365 Project.  She was to read one book a day and write a review on her blog for one year.  On October 28, 2009 she completed it.  What an incredible endeavour!

Nina lives in Westport, Connecticut, with a family of four reading boys to raise.  Incredible indeed.  Her first book in the Project?  The Elegance of the Hedgehog, one of my favorite books of the year.  Click Here to read her New York Times interview.

As a book lover, there’s nothing more she’d rather do than just to read all day. But Nina embarked on this project for some other reasons as well.  She read to learn, to find her place in the world, to seek directions on how to conduct her life, raise her children, relate to her fellow humanity. Also, four years after the death of her older sister at age 46,  she had now come to that age herself. She wrote on her site her purpose for reading with the most poignant words.  I would not paraphrase a single line:

“This year I am the age she was when she died: 46.  She was too young to die, she loved to read, I am fulfilling maybe even a fraction of the reading she should have had left to her. But I am not only reading to compensate, I am reading to endure.  Books — especially novels — offer a window into how other people deal with life, its sorrows and joys and monotonies and frustrations.  I can find empathy, guidance, fellowship, and experience through my reading.  I will never be relieved of my sorrow for my sister.  I am not looking for relief: I am looking for resilience.”

This is one of the most moving reasons for reading.  Nina Sankovitch now writes a book column for Huffington Post, and is still keeping her Read All Day site, down to maybe three books a week.  She is also preparing for publication a book on her 365 Project.

My next allotment of 365 is coming up very shortly.  I know I can’t take that for granted.  Who can guarantee 365, or even 24.  A book a day, what an inspiring concept… something I can never imagine myself doing.  What motivates me though isn’t her achieving that 365, but maintaining the momentum every 24.

It’s not so much about reaching that magical number, or completing a task, it’s all about finding a purpose, and the resilience to live it every single day.


Photo:  Footbridge to Bow Lake, Alberta.  Taken by Arti of Ripple Effects, August, 09. All Rights Reserved.

To Read or Not To Read: A Personal Response


It looks like my last post has stirred up some ripples. I thank you all for your input to a very complex topic.  Your comments certainly make an interesting forum, where there’s the exchange of ideas and the sharing of opposing views.  That this is even possible is basically because we all read and write.  It’s not too late to thank our teachers for this.

Indeed, the issue of reading is a complicated one.  On the outset, and from your comments, we see aspects dealing with the skill, the form, and the content of reading.  While at the same time, underlying are the very values we hold towards this seemingly simple act: What is reading after all?  How should it be taught in our schools and transmitted (or not) in our homes?  And, what should the content be in order to classify the act as such?

As someone who has involved in literacy research, I have seen recent academic studies taken the perspective of re-defining reading and writing not as a skill but a social practice. Our values sustain the act, or transform it. As we see the ubiquitous usage of the internet and digital communication, we are witnessing the power of technology changing our social values, lifestyle, interests, and how we spend our time.

The NEA surely had the effects of our technological age in mind, thus, an update on the reading habits of Americans.  The last one they did was in 2004.  As with any survey, the NEA Study has its limitations and confined by its own perspective and contextual stance.  And, within the parameters of the present study, they did not go into details the causes, but they did present the correlations of variables.  The results can be considered as reflections of our contemporary society.  The correlations of factors and the implications of the findings are significant enough for us to ponder.  Again, you can download the 98-page report in pdf format here (3.32 MB).

I welcome the progress we have made in digital and internet technology, bringing the world closer at the twitch of our finger, feeding us with instant knowledge and information. I congratulate those who attempt to bring the world of print to their readers by more convenient modes of delivery, such as transmitting reading materials in digital mode, and others who attempt to attract young readers through the creation of new kinds of books, such as graphic novels and manga’s. 

And yet…I lament the erosion of a part of our culture and civilization, the form of reading and writing as we still know it.  I’m concerned about the gradual obliteration of the “classics”, or the dying of the literary form. I lament to see the decline of appreciation and comprehension of literature, for I believe the humanity and universality in many of these works still speak in our world today.  I believe there’s an urgent need to create even more literary works in the face of technological domination.  There may not be a golden age of reading, but there has been a heritage of writing.

I worry about our next generation replacing the art and pleasure of book reading with offerings from other media. I’m also concerned about the English language disintegrating into cyber lingos, or replaced by sensational, action-packed anime. It is a phenomenon graver than just seeing the puzzled faces of our young as they look at an analog clock or try to use a dial phone. 

The progress we have made in technology does not mean that we should downplay the loss of a heritage.  That we can artificially make ice should not trivialize the disappearance of glaciers. The ushering in of electronic music should not obliterate the works of Mozart.  The two can co-exist…isn’t that the postmodern promise? 

No doubt, reading and writing will survive, since we still need to look up information, make lists, chat on-line…and blog.  But I regret to see the erosion of literary reading and the appreciation of literature, classic or contemporary, and may it not come to pass, the termination of its creation in the future, near or distant.

As another year draws to a close,  we may need to take stock of both our progress and our loss.  I’m not a doomsayer, but surveys like the NEA’s point to what seems like an irreversible trend.  While some may not see it as a gloomy path but just a shift of social practices and lifestyle, the survey results reflect our priorities and the shifting values in this day and age. 

Or, is it really irreversible? 

Maybe all is not lost.  At the start of a new year, I’d like to remain optimistic.  Maybe it begins with…yes, a New Year’s resolution on reading… 

A Happy New Year to All!