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Jan 2001 - Dec 2001

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Dec 31, 2001

In the closing hours of 2001, one's thoughts are of course bent toward the positives and negatives of the past year. My present thoughts are are of an uncharacteristically personal nature, so much so that their essence is inappropriate for this very public venue. Perhaps some other time. My first entry of the new year, however, will be more forthcoming. I promise.

One good thing I'll report is that I saw The Lord of The Rings last weekend... twice! Yes, it's that good. If you don't think so, you're a spiritual raisin.

I've just returned "home" to DC after a week in Toronto, my true home. The trip always fills me with emotion, so do forgive the pensive navel-gazing quality of this entry. I've been so altered by this week, in fact, that I've even cut my long hair! That's right, I'll be mistaken for a girl no more!

This evening, I'll be off to the end-of-the-year black tie gala hosted by DC's National Press Club. I'll be sipping champagne with the likes of Dan Rather and Chris Matthews. Well, more likely I'll be chugging cheap beer with journalism students and hangers-on like me.

Okay, me go sleep now. See you next year.

Dec 20, 2001

Geez, it doesn't end. I'm expanding like a pig! After having dropped down to a sveldt 145 lbs after moving down to DC (courtesy of diligent working out and very healthy eating), I have begun to balloon again. Today it was courtesy of something called a "Philly cheese stake sub", which is American-ese for "slow death by artery occlusion." What a disgusting invention! It's a foot-long sandwich (on white bread, of course) stuffed with semi-cooked chicken upon which is slathered gobs of mayonnaise and eight types of inexpensive cheese. Hmm, there's goes my reputation as "Ray the free-flowing", if you know what I mean. Heh heh. Ugh.

The true cause of my expansion is my inability of late to arise before 8:AM. That means I can't undertake my usual morning run. Nothing burns fat better than running, let me tell you. And no time is better for burning fat than the first thing in the morning. But alas, due to late night TV watching, I've been unable to drag my sorry (and expanding) ass out of bed in time.

Adding to my devolution to stereotypical middle-American trash is my current state. I am sitting in front of my computer (while watching Supercroc on the National Geographic channel), dressed only in my underwear (which is a lot more than usual) and, um, drinking cheap wine from a Dixie cup. Classy, eh?

Well, I figure I needed to acquire some bad habits to give up in time for New Year's.

I have yet another article at Dooney's Cafe. Yes, it's a product of The Podium, my sweet sweet electronic child. Do also check out the video news update. It'll probably be my last before Christmas.

Dec 17, 2001

Ahoy-hoy, everyone. The first steps toward Podium syndication are underway. Two of my columns have been reproduced on bigger name websites. My take on the entertainment industry's effect on education can be found at Dooney's Cafe, while my declaration of love for professional wrestling can be found on the immensely popular Pro Wrestling Torch (click on Guest Editorials and Archives). One reader has commented: "I can say without a doubt that was the best piece on professional wrestling that I have ever read." Cool, huh?

More are forthcoming, but remember that you can always get the originals at The Podium.

Here's a great link, courtesy of Katie Sandusky.

I'm heading to Toronto for Christmas next week, but I'll try to squeeze in at least one last update before New Years.

Dec 9, 2001

The great Podium experiment continues. My other site has undergone some changes, so do check it out. If all goes well, we'll see some Podium content on other (bigger) sites soon. More details to come, I hope.

Looks like I've pretty much decided to spend New Year's eve in DC, rather than Toronto. And I'm leaning toward attending the National Press Club's big gala. If I do, be assured that surreptitious photos will be forthcoming, thanks to my trusty Eyemodule.

As reported in my last update, I now have a DC driver's licence. (That's a story in itself, involving the usual chimp metaphors.) While I have no intention of actually driving, its acquisition was required before I could get a cell phone. But listen to this: I still can't get a phone because I don't have an American credit history. Can you believe this? It's not like I'm destitute! Errrgh.

I've also been putting on weight. This is quite the surprise since I'd been steadily losing weight since moving down here. But this past week, I've been chowing down on fatty peanutbutter sandwiches and foregoing my usual morning runs. Baaaad Ray. Don't worry, I'll be back to my thin-but-flabby self real soon.

Here's a heads-up. I'll be doing a reading and book-signing at the Central Reference Library in Toronto on Jan 21st. The evening is titled, "A Taste of the Caribbean:Canadian Caribbean Writers", and will feature Harrichand Itwaru and H. Nigel Thomas, in addition to myself. Do come.

Dec 1, 2001

Am I the king of content, or what? The Podium has two new articles and a new movie review, and I've finally posted new photos from DC, from Rosa's and Rob's Sarnia wedding and from random events throughout the year.

Speaking of The Podium, I've noticed on the 'Net the occasional link to content on one of my two sites. That's great; content is there to be distributed. However, do be sure to credit the author (usually me) and to link back here if you've snatched the actual text. If you don't think I'll follow up on incidents of plagiarism, think again: I have a lot of free time, loads of resources, a perverse sense of retribution and no mercy in my heart.

The search engine is working well, but is a bit flawed. I'm working on making it better. Remember, stay tuned for Podium Radio! Estimated launch date is January, 2002. I'm presently taking suggestions for broadcast content. If you'd like to produce a radio show, do contact me. I can't pay you, but I can provide a venue.

Oh yeah... new video news update is available for your viewing pleasure. In this week's installment, I sing you a song!

Nov 28, 2001

I've recently returned from my first trip back to Toronto since moving to DC. It was good see everyone, but somewhat bittersweet for reasons I shan't get into here. I will say, though, that my first impressions of my true home city were, "Hey! Everything's half price!" and "Geez, this place is filthy!" Yes, dear friends, compared to Washington's anal sterility, Toronto the Clean is clean no more.

This weekend, I went to "beautiful" Sarnia, Ontario, to attend the nuptials of lovely Rosa Aguiar (who's also my hairdresser!) and the charming Carmello Robert Lombardi. As usual, it was loads of fun, especially considering it was in Sarnia! It was fine to return, not only to Canada, but to the heartland of Canada. I will post some excellent photos of the event, and of other recent events, in my Photos section real soon --maybe even tomorrow.

Today at work I wrote a poem for the company. It's true. Isn't my job great? I'm heading off right now to get a DC driver's licence. In this country, you can't do anything without a local licence, not even get a cell phone! Where is the connection betweem driving and cell phones, hmm? I thought we were trying to discourage driving while talking?

Saw the Harry Potter movie last week. My review will be posted on The Podium real soon. Do check it out. While you're at it, bookmark The Podium 'cause in a month or two it will start to broadcast the finest in Internet radio!

I'll be back in Toronto on Dec. 21. Haven't decided when to return to DC, though: before or after New Year's? Suggestions would be appreciated.

Nov 18, 2001

It's 3:AM and I've just come in from watching the Leonid meteor showers from the park behind my apartment building. I was well equipped with a toque, flashlight and an MP3 player loaded with appropriate shooting star music. In the first ten minutes I saw at least 20 meteorites, but was forced back inside by a stiff neck and cold feet. The Leonids, much like the Perseids (which amazingly occur every year on my birthday), are the result of million year old comet residue crashing into the Earth's atmosphere.

I know I'm an old man because the scene didn't inspire me with the same awe that it did when I was a boy. But it was still pretty cool. Also telling was the frequency with which I could identify satellites tumbling across the sky. When I was young, it was a rarity to see a jet's vapour trail! Now the signatures of a space-faring civilization are banal in their frequency, accompanied as they were by my soundtrack of Adamski, Vangelis and Rollergirl.

I guess my focus of late has moved from the celestial to the earthbound. This week I attended a very special opening of a photo exhibit at the Canadian embassy. The exhibit, by Peter Bregg, celebrates the life of Pierre Trudeau, a man who had quite an influence on me. Peter Bregg's wife Dianne is an acquaintance of mine, hence my inclusion in this otherwise exclusive event. Also in attendance were embassy officials, certain media mainstays, a former CIA spook and an illustrator from the National Geographic. It was all quite fascinating, and of course surreptitiously recorded with my trusty Eyemodule. I'll post the photos here as soon as I get off my butt.

So do you like the new look of the site? Sign my guestbook and let me know. I'm more thoroughly integrating Deonandan.com and The Podium, even adding a search function on each site that allows you to search for specific documents from either domain. Many people have asked how to get copies of some of my articles. If they're here or on The Podium, the search function will allow you to locate them quickly.

A big new addition to these sites is coming soon.... streaming Internet radio! The stream will be hosted from The Podium, but will be integrated with this site. You'll be able to hear my thoughts about DC, interviews with some of the interesting people I've been meeting, and lots of ambient music to fill the deadspace. The estimated lauch date is two weeks hence.

Nov 12, 2001

As I write this in the early morning, CNN is reporting that another airplane has crashed in New York city. For the sake of my parents' blood pressures, I hope this doesn't turn out to be another terrorist attack (or what a local postal worker referred to as "more foolishness"). As a result, you must forgive me if I'm not my usual flippant self today.

So, in more flippant news, Last Friday I saw the Petersen Quartet perform at the Library of Congress. In my best gay accent, it was simply fabulous. I haven't been so moved by live classical music since hearing the Hart House Choir perform Gustav Holst's The Hymn of Jesus almost 13 years ago. By the way, I've been searching for a good recording of that piece ever since, so if you have any leads do forward them (preferably free, of the MP3 variety).

The library's concert hall was quite impressive. I managed to snap some surreptitious photos on my Eyemodule, and will post them soon. Of course, given the current state of this country, summarized so nicely by The Daily Show's current tagline, America Freaks out, the security at the library was better than most Third World presidential offices! (I'm serious, I've been to a few Third World presidential offices.) With the frisks and metal detectors and purse x-rays, it took a couple of hours for a hundred people to get settled in. I, of course, garnered particular attention, due to the plethora of suspicious metal gadgets I tend to have tucked away in the various folds of my clothing. (See, not everything is racially motivated.)

In other news, my Unconscious People Found count is now up to four. You see, I have a history of finding people stricken with head injuries, seizures or diabetic comas. The people at 911 know me by first name now. Last weekend, I found yet another one, collapsed in the hallway of my very expensive high-security building. He's okay, just a little shaken up. The interesting thing was my first thought when I came across his sprawled body; it was the same thought that the whole country is having right now, given the present events in New York: "Oh here we go again!"

I'm going to try something new this week. From my other, more serious website, The Podium, I will soon start broadcasting Internet radio! That's right, friends will submit playlists, and I will post interviews with local personalities. Fun? Wow! Do stay tuned. And sign my bloody guestbook already!

Nov 5, 2001

So many updates so quickly! Slow down, Ray, slow down!

Okay, I'll keep this short. Got new pics in the DC section of my photo album. Speaking of pics, if you're curious here is a panoramic ensemble photo of my apartment in DC. Yep, it was taken on my Visor Deluxe.

Oh yeah, do visit The Podium. There are a couple of new articles there, both by me. One is my old cover story from India Currents Magazine. The other is a somewhat scholarly article resuluming from a presentation I have at the Scie es.ence Fiction & Fantasy Symposium at the University of Ottawa back in May.

Nov 2, 2001

Okay, the week is almost over... is it okay to breathe yet? There is definitely tension in America's capital, but it's very subtle. You find it in the uncharacteristic and strained courtesy that seems endemic in the city's financial heart. Of course, one also sees the sobering oddities, such as postal workers bedecked in surgical masks and latex gloves. I predict a "rash" of latex allergic reactions being misdiagnosed as cutaneous anthrax.

It really is a different country. (Different from Canada, in case you're wondering what I mean.) My regular trips to the grocery store often result in horror, as I am forced to squeeze by enormous flabby asses that seem far too wide to have sprung naturally from the human genome. The effect, fortunately, is to encourage me to buy only healthy foods.

Speaking of food, the produce here is refreshingly affordable. I bought 18 large eggs for just over a dollar! Yet finding fresh produce is comparatively difficult... the high-sodium processed fare is much more prominently displayed.

The bottom line is that Toronto really is a special place to live. As the world's most multicultural city, Toronto benefits from products, particularly culturally specific foodstuffs, unavailable to much of the cosmopolitan world. What am I talking about? Here in Dc, the heart of the empire, I'm having a hard time finding something as basic as ground coriander seeds, which is a staple in Indian cooking.

Oh, for those keeping score, I've now been in DC for more than a month... and I've yet to receive my ATM card from the Chevy Chase Bank. I know, I know, a pesky little thing called anthrax has slowed the mail system... but I can still complain, damnit!

Let's close with my most recent brush with fame and power. I was in Friendship Heights (near Chevy Chase and Bethesda), seeing that awful Johnny Depp movie, From Hell, when an elderly gentleman stumbled in front of me. I lunged forward to catch him. He patted me on the shoulder in thanks, mumbled some gracious words, and hobbled away. That man was Michael Deaver, President Ronald Reagan's deputy chief of staff from 1981 to 1985.

Oct 29, 2001

Geez, another terrorist warning this week. What weird planet am I living on? I thought it prudent to update this site, just in case DC gets nuked and my precious navel-gazing thoughts are lost to the world.

Lemme see what I have for you today.... Well, I have new photos of DC posted in Gallery 32. Also, I've updated my resume, and have added a link to an "appearance" I made on CBC radio on my reviews page. Do check it out. An MP3 of my interview on Ryerson radio is available for download here.

You'll also note that I have a brand new feature on this website... video! I'll try to update my video report every week or so. My apologies to those who can't view the video format I've chosen (.AVI); I'll try to post in something more universal in the future.

Life in DC sure is interesting. The aforementioned photos are from a pumpkin-carving party I went to in Columbia, Maryland, last week. Today, I had lunch with the editor of Emergency Preparedness News and, of course, given my profession, touched on frightening topics in bioterrorism. Eek. And in a couple of weeks, I'll be attending my first embassy function, a photograpy exhibit by Peter Bregg celebrating the life of one of my heroes, Pierre Trudeau. (While you're visiting that link, do drop by the newly updated Podium!)

I'll leave you with a fun (and educational!) little link. Ever wonder how similar Osama bin Laden is to, say, Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell? Go here to find out!

Oct 23, 2001

You heard it here first. Forget the vaunted American reputation for service and all that rubbish about the free market creating better products, blah blah blah. I am now of the official opinion that American service provision sucks ass!

Let us begin:

1. My property manager forgot to process my order for cable/phone/internet service. Add one week of expensive cellular service to my bill.

2. The cable/phone/internet people make me wait a week before a guy can show up and plug in a fricking phone.

3. The serviceman from the same cable/phone/internet forgets to show up. I have to wait an additional week for another appointment.

4. The serviceman finally shows up, but doesn't bring the ethernet card he promised, so I have to reschedule another appointment for the following week!

5. The cable/phone/internet guy with the ethernet card forgets to show up. I have to reschedule again!

6. The cable/phone/internet guy shows up to my building, but forgets which apartment he's supposed to go to. Luckily, my property manager drags him back as he's walking back to his fricking van.

7. The chimps who run the bank forget to mail me my ATM card. So I have a load of cash in accounts I can't access, and bills to pay. I'm living off of credit cards still ---one month of life here, and still no ATM card.

8. Did I mention the operator at the hotel I stayed in for the first two weeks couldn't read a fricking computer screen, so I never got my phone calls?

9. The same prehistoric (yes, prehistoric) cable/phone/internet company has failed to give me voicemail and caller ID, even though I am paying for these things. Complaining seems to have no effect.

10. Latest development.... the 10 MB of free web space I get with my very expensive cable modem service apparently does not exist.

No wonder this country is at war. The capital is run by chimps... and not smart space chimps, either, but the retarded ones who throw crap at each other! For the record, the evil doers are Star Power, the Silver Spring Holiday Inn and the fricking Chevy Chase Bank. Boycott them, send them chain mail, bottled farts, whatever it takes.

Oct 18, 2001

Well, here we are in Washington DC at last. Land of quadrilateral pentagons and mail-order anthrax. Really, it's not that bad. In fact, on the plus side, there are fewer tourists to wade through at the Smithsonian.

I'm maintaining a tenuous hold on my unofficially connected cable modem service, so this update will be short. The Joke of the Day has been out of service for four weeks now. Bear with me! Jokes will be forthcoming in a couple of days!

I have new photos posted! Finally, I've put up the pics from my convocation, from the epidemiology conference earlier this summer, from the wedding of my brother Abhi to Kathy, and of my first couple of weeks in DC! More will be forthcoming on a regular basis.

Also forthcoming is a regular video report. Stay tuned. The first such video should be available here in a couple of days.

Sep 25, 2001

Auuugh! Did I say "one week to go"? Make that "a few hours to go"! Due to a visa concern, I have to get all my stuff packed tonight and out of here bright and early in the morning. Nothing like pressure to bring out the crabbiness in me...

So with threats of bio-terrorism lurking, I considered getting an Israeli-type NBC (nuclear-biological-chemical) gas mask from places like The Survival Store. But they're sold out around the world! Ouch!

Not to get maudlin, but in recognition of the fact that I'm moving to a country that purports to be at war, I've prepared a living will, which is something I encourage every adult to do --not just because of terrorism, but because you could get snuffed out, or semi-snuffed, at any moment by a drunk driver, exploding TV set, alien death ray or virulent disease. The will is online and encrypted, and only my brother knows where to find it.

I'm going to introduce a new feature of this website in a week or two: movies! Yep. My Quick Cam will allow me to both broadcast a "ray cam" and to regularly post video clips describing my adventures in DC. So stay tuned!

Well, I must pack my computer now. That means no more updates to this site until I unpack my stuff in DC a week from now. Remember, you can always email me at ray@deonandan.com. And, until the end of October, those who know my mobile number will be able to reach me at the same number.

I leave you with a poignant quote:

"Seek the company of those who seek the truth. Avoid the company of those who have found it."
-- Vaclav Havel

Till next week!

Sep 23, 2001

Sigh. One week to go before I move. Packing is hectic! And the sadness surrounding my move is becoming palpable. Damn these terrorists --they had to confuse my life even more than it already is! I vacillate between dismissive bravado and sucking panic. My horroscope at yahoo.com was rather revealing today:

Today's configuration is likely to see you drawn to spiritual pursuits. The energy of the day could inspire you to meditate or to pray. You might find that you are thinking about the meaning of life. Or you could be searching for answers about choices that you need to make. Take time to sense the truth. Don't rush into anything. Do some reflecting and find the path that is most meaningful for you.

In keeping with my search for assurance through the myriad avenues of the web's less attractive innards, here (with some minor editing) is another excerpt from a posting at Craig's List. Someone actually said it was a statement by Rush Limbaugh, but I don't believe that for a second:

How did we get to be a nation that bombs indiscriminately, supports harsh regimes, topples governments that are democratically elected, and spies on its own citizens? Whenever we're asked to go to war, it's so we can defend American "interests". I figured out that this means American corporations' interests -- this stuff is against the interests of ordinary Americans.

Our government does all the violent manipulating mentioned in the first paragraph so that American and trans-national corporations can take the natural resources of foreign nations very cheaply, and have the citizens work for disgracefully low, unliveable wages.

Are we all in agreement with this? Is the American way of life worth harming our nation's soul with the damage done to people all around the world? n a depressing flash, I came to the realization that one of three discouraging scenarios is operating here: Either there aren't enough of us who care enough to petition our government for change, as we are advised to do in our Constitution. Or lots of people do petition the government, and the government isn't listening.

The third, and most horrible possibility: Enough of us know what's going on -- that millions of people in other nations are suffering at the hands of corporations and our government, and some Americans think that's OK.

Could it be that maintaining an elegant lifestyle is worth damaging the lives of millions of people whose poverty makes our American prosperity possible? Is that the nation we've become? How can we become a nation that we can all be proud of -- a nation that plays fair?

-Anonymous, Sep 22, 2001

In other news, I played a "farewell" squash game against Squire Wong yesterday. For tradition's sake alone, I, um, threw the game. Yeah, that's it.

A year late, but still appreciated, I received two letters of congratulations from my alma mater, the University of Toronto, regarding my winning of the Guyana Prize. The letters were from the Dean of Arts and Science and from the Director of Alumni Affairs. They're probably form letters, but I really appreciate them nonetheless. You can read them here and here.

Lastly, I'd like to plug the recent edition of The Podium. It features a poem written by <>, a resident of Manhattan (and my cousin), written on the day of the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings.

Don't know if I'll have a chance to update this site before I relocate. If not, stay tuned for exciting posts from Washington DC, the heart of the beast!

Sep 19, 2001

It was never my intent to have daily updates of this site. But these days, how can I not?

My media watch continues. There was a simply excellent article in The Toronto Star today. While this is probably illegal, I've reproduced it here for you. I don't think the newspaper will mind, since I credit them clearly. The article is impressive because it summarizes an unpopular view rather succinctly, and points out something I've been preaching: the media seems unaware of --or unwilling to discuss-- the historical basis for terrorism on American soil, while it is ironically the public who is quite vocal in its insistence to understand.

On a similar note, Harald Leusmann has pointed me to a nice website for alternative news: www.alternet.org. Thanks, Harald! The site contains yet another impressive article by Naomi Klein. If she keeps this up, I may have to officially change my opinion of her writing.

I could no longer sit back and monitor world events. I had to act. So I wrote a letter to my Prime Minister. I know, I know, it's a weenie thing to do. But I have to do something. In keeping with my policy of complete openness and disclosure, you can read my letter here.

I encourage everyone who has a strong opinion on these matters to do the same. I know, nobody actually reads these things. But if there are enough of them, maybe someone will read them.

And, as always, I'll try to close the bulletin with a positive thought. When Sweet Like Saltwater won the Guyana Prize for Best First Book, I found this letter in a Guyanese newspaper, complaining that the book was nowhere to be found in the country! After much looking, I located the letter writer and sent him an authographed copy. So all's well on that front.

See? There are some positive things happening in the world today.

Sep 18, 2001

Tensions continue to rise south of the border. I, if course, am monitoring the mood in the USA very closely, as it is very soon to be my new home. As a brown-skinned man of "vaguely Arab" appearance, I am most concerned about the jingoistic rhetoric being bantered about the media, and the resulting backlash (sometimes criminal and violent) against visible minorities. This development has underlined my oft-stated position that I am much more afraid of my fellow citizen than I am of any invisible terrorist.

President Bush finally said the word I was dreading he would say....crusade. Sigh. I sure hope it wasn't intentional. This comes at the heels of extremely disturbing posturing by American religious "leaders" who are --sometimes slyly and deviously-- calling for nothing less than Holy War.

Pat Robertson's and Jerry Falwell's racist and nazi-like comments are available here. A very sad and worrying commentary from neo-fascist Ann Coulter in The Daily News is available here. If you don't know who this frightening person is, Salon has a nice send-up of this Aryan crusader here.

Fortunately, there are less loud, but equally as pervasive, voices of reason throughout Internet chat rooms in the USA. These give me hope that US society is capable of detaching its justifiable anger from the rationalism needed to formulate an appropriate response. Here are a couple of the more hopeful posts:

From Craig's List:

We muck around with everyone in the world and we are naive to think that that doesn't have consequences or that we are above reproach because of our history as a strong nation or that we somehow don't need to be aware of the repercussions we cause in the world for our own benefit. That is indeed part of what the terrorists are trying to tell us, because we are so stone deaf to hearing any kind of criticism about our own behavior as a country. We're deaf because the damage we create in the world has never really affected Americans personally, until now.

We must have the strength to look inward as well as outward. I think this will require more strength of our nation than getting psyched up to go to war.

by "stop_ignorance" 09/16 12:01:09

From the chat line of the Washington City Paper:

We turned God Against America, or so say Jerry Falwell and Pat Robertson.

How are these thugs mainstream? They are Osama bin Laden in a business suit and with a TV show.

by "the Destroyer" 09/14 08:41:40

And here is a letter in the Washington Post that sums things up with a perspective I can appreciate:

I make no pretense about having sufficient information but it seems that we have overreacted for this reason. And I certainly do not intend in any way to minimize what happened. The attack is not an attack as in war with a goal to damage the physical structures and to kill human beings. It is instead a public relations attack. "See what we can do to cause disruption and chaos." We should not give them this victory so easily.

Fort Washington, Md.

Finally, one of my least favourite writers has finally impressed me. Naomi Klein, alongside whom I used to work when we were writers for The Varsity, the University of Toronto's famed newspaper, is now a world famous critic of Western commercial culture. Her book No Logos has become the bible for that breed of reactionist activist that so infuriates me. However, Naomi and I have always shared a genuine desire to see social justice. And today she has impressed me by finding the courage to publish an article in the Los Angeles Times that takes a marginally unpopular though deeply courageous view of recent events. You can read it here. Congratulations to you, Naomi.

Sep 15, 2001

Well, what to say? The countdown continues to my big move to DC. But of course the thrill has been soured significantly due to the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Word today is that Reagan National Airport may not re-open ever! That is the main airport in DC, and one of the city's selling point for me (a quick and easy way out of the city with minimal notice). This sucks.

For my two cents, the growing paranoia in North America is exactly what the terrorists wanted: prolonged terror. Sure, let's step up security measures and not be careless anymore... but let's not be lily-livered and live in fear! We are always at risk ...and we always were at risk. Now we just know about it with more certainty. Closing an airport will not slow or deter a suicidal terrorist intent on taking out his target. Indeed, it probably solidifies his resolve by showing him the fear in his targets' hearts.

This section of my website was not intended as a soapbox. If you're interested in that sort of thing, please visit my other site, The Podium. So let's change the subject, shall we? There's a marvelous new review of Sweet Like Saltwater in The Caribbean Writer, a very prestigious literary magazine published by The University of the Virgin Islands. You can read it here.

My good buddy and comedian/actor Andrew Currie is leaving for a tour of Canadian embassies in Asia. I suspect he will be providing regular updates on his website of his adventures in the Orient.

Lastly, I tried something new today: acupuncture! Doctor of Chinese medicine, Ken TK Hoang of the Betterment Health Care Centre in Toronto, gave me a marvelous treatment for my allergies. I was most impressed by its enjoyability and effectiveness. Always end a bulletin with a bit of good news, eh?

Sep 12, 2001

You know, I'd planned today's bulletin to be another of my long line of smarmy smart-assed commentaries (this time about my recent trip to DC --the heart of the Leviathan-- and the clever tale of an insect's trip down the ear canal of my old friend Milan Latincic). But global tragedy has pre-empted my plans.

Of course you all know about yesterday's terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon. Yikes. A personal note about the event is given on the home page of my buddy Andrew Currie.

For me, the connection is tangible. As a child, I lived in New York with my family. And of course I'm about to make Washington, DC, my new home. Eerily, I was in DC just two days ago, right in the path of destruction.

This has not changed my plans to move there. In fact, I more sure than ever of my security in that city, given the autorities' renewed sense of understandable paranoia. I'll be surprised if I get away with nothing short of the occasional strip search for now on! However, the timing sure sucks in terms of engendering some sense of comfort on my parents' part.

Anyway, I don't need to say that this is a horrible event that we should all take seriously. Go home and hug somebody.

August 27, 2001

Sigh. The countdown to my departure from Canada is now at 5 weeks. As the details become clarified, I find I finally have time to consider the more personal aspects of my emigration. I realize that DC is not very far from Toronto. But it's far enough to mean that I'll see my friends and family, at the most, only every couple of months.

There is a particularly special person whom leaving behind is proving more difficult than I anticipated. She knows who she is, so I'll avoid specifics. Ending relationships is never easy, regardless of how reasonable or impersonal the rationale.

You might be interested in seeing my new home in DC. It's in a luxury apartment called The Saratoga. Pretty slick, but expensive. All I can afford is the studio apartment, which means I'll get even fewer visitors!

In other news, my eldest brother Abhi is about to get married to his long time girlfriend Kathy. If I told you how long they've been together, you'd never believe me. So I won't bother.

And in completely unrelated news, I tried something really interesting last week. Thanks to the prodding of Barbra Sniderman, I partook in flying trapeze lessons at circus school! It's true! The scariest part, believe it or not, was climbing the fricking ladder. Thanks to my instructors Dave and Barna for preventing me from plummetting to my death.

August 19, 2001

Well, I see I haven't updated this site in some time! I have a good excuse. I've been busy preparing for my big move to DC (which occurs at the end of September). I'm excited, trepidacious, sad and optimistic all at the same time.

For those of you who haven't been keeping score, I'm about to start a new job with a company in the Washington DC area called Social & Scientific Systems. I returned from an apartment-hunting trip just a few days ago.

Where to begin with my assessment of the place? Well, it's damned expensive! I found a tiny bachelor apartment for $1200! Yikes. Somebody's not going to be paying off his student loans any time soon.

My old friend Matthew Vadum, a reporter for the grand old Bond Buyer, was kind enough to show me about. His softball game on the Ellipse in front of the White House was quite surreal, punctuated by the firing of canon, a military parade and a marching band. When the band hit the national anthem, the entire park stood at attention. I was the token secular non-nationalist.

Later that night, Matthew drove me around town. We stopped to pose in front of Bill Clinton's new house, and sighed patriotically at the grand Canadian embassy. But when we stopped briefly in front of the Congress building, we were quickly surrounded by crewcut neo-cops who gave us a very hard time indeed. Welcome to DC.

Stay tuned to this space to learn about my impressions of the place after I move there full-time in a few weeks. In the mean time, Andrew Currie is in Japan, and is describing the place in minute detail every day on his excellent website.

July 14, 2001

Boy am I tired! I've just come back from back-to-back trips to Saskatoon and Savannah! Photos are, of course, posted. No real other news to report, except that there are new articles and reviews available at The Podium!.

Also, I have a few new pics from Ed Wong's wedding. These definitely worth looking at!

I'll have another update in a couple of days.

By the way, have you been watching the WWF lately? Kinda lame until they brought in the ECW invasion angle. Speaking of which, I have a new favourite wrestling news source: 411wrestling.com.

June 10, 2001

Oh, why must I always be sick? Oh woe is me! This coming week will be a fun one for Ray's incarnation as epidemiologist. Toronto will host the first ever Epidemiology Congress, a global academic meeting of epidemiology professionals. My good friend Neil Klar will be giving a short course a, um, terribly interesting biostatistics topic. And I will be giving both an oral and poster presentation on topics from my thesis.

Speaking of thesis, this past week saw the formal conferring of my Ph.D. from the University of Western Ontario. I was second up, which meant my poor family had to sit through a further three boring hours of graduates. Here's a scanned photo of the actual degree; because it's so long, I had to scan it in two parts and join the files manually, hence the weird look.

In writing news, my long article about Guyana appeared this month in California's India Currents Magazine. It seems to have touched a lot of people, judging from the volume of email I've received.

In other news, I found a review of North of Infinity, that science fiction anthology in which my story "The Reef" was first published. I've reproduced the review here, mostly because the reviewer was particularly complimentary of moi.

My photos site is almost full! I'll be opening a new one soon. The first entry will be pics from my graduation. How exciting!

Oh, by the way, the squash battles are back on. That's all I'm going to say about that.

May 31, 2001

Well, no real news to report. Except... I was surfing the web doing my regular search for things related to my writing when I found this odd Rastafarian website at www.jahlifeguard.com. Interspersed among the regular text are long lists of famous artists, like Thoreau, David Bowie and Shakespeare. Somewhere in there, in between Leonard Peltier and Eminem, I think, is me, Raywat Deonandan!


My computer died, bit by bit, last week. I've managed to assemble a beautiful and powerful P3-866 MHz little tiger, and she purrs. Sigh. With Windows 2000 installed, one of the perks is a whole new set of drivers for my accessories, such as my scanner. The result is much improved photos for my website! (I bet you were wondering where I was going with that!)

Anyway, the first photos of Ray's New Computer era are now up. They're of the smashing wedding of Squire Edmund Wong and Meiling Hu. Enjoy.

May 21, 2001

I've just returned from emceeing the wedding of one of my bestest buddies, Squire Edmund Wong (who was wed to the bodacious and beautiful Meling Hu). A magnificent evening it was, replete with an exorbitant Chinese buffet.... and a full open bar, hence my present inebriated state.

I'd just like to say that Squire Wong is one of the finest gentlemen I've had the pleasure to know in my more-or-less exciting life. Though I've met Prime Ministers and Llamas aplenty, I'd take the likes of Mr. Wong over any of them. Never have I known a funnier, more complete, cooler, introspective, genuine or loyal friend; a true prince among men. (Good thing I'm drunk, or I'd never say such things out loud.) He has married an excellent woman in Meiling Hu, someone who brings him order, consistency and steadfastness; all invaluable traits.

While we are all sad to see Sir Edmund slip from the ranks of the free-and-easy single folk, we're also pleased that he is embarking on a new life as husband to an excellent woman and future father to a litter of Milhousian kids. Good luck to ye, Squire Edmund.

I fear this means an end to the regular weekly squash matches. Alas, Gentle Reader, I was unable to wrest the belt from him before his nuptials. Mostly 'cause he was ducking me. So I guess Ed retires with the belt.... unless he wants to start a new tournament!

Congratulations, Ed and Meiling, and thanks for letting us be a part of it all.

Stay tuned for photos to be posted soon!

May 7, 2001

Hey, just got back from Ottawa. My two talks at the University of Ottawa went well (I think). Thanks to Linda Morra and Tammy Clifford for having arranged my participation in each of the two events at which I made a presentation.

It seems I'll be spending much of this summer volunteering for Doctors Without Borders. Looks like my role will be as a sort of community or school educator with respect to a mobile demonstration refugee camp that they're toting about the Toronto area.

That's all for today. Remember to read The Podium!!

April 27, 2001

Ahh, sweet sweet unemployment. It's amazing how the time required to complete a task expands to fill the time available. It takes me all day to do the simplest little task. If I go to the bank and the cleaners on the same day, I gotta lie down.

In a few hours, I'm off to Muskoka to attend the bachelor party for the impending nuptuals of Squire Edmund Wong. He shall be punished! I've decided that the rationale behind the bachelor party is to, at first, celebrate the stereotype of singledom.... then to produce so much misery that the subject realizes how lucky he is to be leaving singledom behind.

In other news, I've received copies of the magazine Americas, which is published by the Organization of American States in English, French and Spanish. It seems they published a portion of Sweet Like Saltwater back in December. I was surprised to discover that they also published a glowing review of the book. I've reproduced it here if you're interested.

Next weekend, I'll be giving two talks in Ottawa. One is strict epidemiology, the other is about literature. I hope I don't get them confused. If you'll be in Ottawa at that time, let me know if you'd like to attend either. (Fat chance, I know.)

Bye bye.

April 13, 2001

How sweet it is to be unemployed again.... Yes, it's true. Today is my last day as an Epidemiologist with ACREU (do check out the website; I'm somewhat responsible for it!) It's been a great year at my first full-time job in my chosen career. As of Monday, I turn up the gears with my good friends at Strategic Health Innovations, having agreed to consult with them part-time for the remainder of the summer.

Of course, I have other plans for the Fall, but I'm not revealing them in this forum until contracts are signed.

Meanwhile, that you-know-what Ed Wong continues his squash domination. My pledge to you, Loyal Reader, is that I shall deprive him of his championship belt sometime before his wedding in the middle of May.

Keep watching the skies!

March 30, 2001

Well, where to begin? Due to an annoying new advertising policy by redrival.com, I've been forced to move this website to geocities.com, hence the new little pop-up you see. Hope it's not too annoying.

Also, young Dr. Raywat has been awarded a major professional writing grant from the Canada Council For The Arts. Very cool. This was for my unfinished novel.

In unrelated news, there's a very good chance I'll be moving to Washington, DC, sometime in the Fall of 2001. More details on that in coming weeks. My contract here at the Princess Margaret Hospital is about to retire, and a summer of travel and contract work awaits...

My big feature article about Guyana finally appeared in the Globe and Mail. It is reproduced here at The Podium.

Lastly, some sad news. My sincerest condolences to my good friend Sean and his family. Sean's father passed away of cancer this past week. If you'd like to do some good, make a donation to the Cancer Society..

March 6, 2001

That b*stard Ed Wong continues to take the upper hand in the weekly squash wars. But soon he will grow weak and distracted. His wedding is fast approaching. With married bliss will come weakness about the middle, the graying of the hairs, a slowness in the step.... he grows more vulnerable by the minute...

In less interesting but more insidious news, the webhost of both this site and The Podium, a group called RedRival.com, has started to place advertising pop-ups on its member pages. I do apologize for this development. I will begin searching for another provider immediately.

Some other interesting developments. The magazine of the Organization of American States, something called Americas, has published my short story "Motherland" in both English and Spanish. Quite without my knowledge, I should say.

Also, I found myself mentioned on a Guyanese literary site, cGuyana.com, in the fine company of such greats as Cyril Dabydeen and Fred D'Aguiar.

I'll be back soon with an update of more stuff....

- Dr. Ray

Feb. 21, 2001

Wow, a whole month since I wrote last! Guess I've been busy. Doing what? Well, mostly playing video games, to tell the truth.

I have new photos from the fiesta surrounding my Ph.D. defence, taken by Herr Currie. But until I get a new photo editor installed, I can't crop them to the right size, contrast, etc. So you'll have to wait a few more days.

I'm still waiting for the Globe & Mail to publish my feature on Guyana! Sheesh, people, get your act(s) together! In the meantime, I'll be doing a book signing at the 2001 Asian American Conference in Toronto on March 28. So do drop by if you can get in.

Also, I'll be presenting some epidemiology stuff at a research centre in Ottawa on May 4th. That same weekend, I'll be giving a talk about "a scientist's relationship with science fiction" at the English department of the University of Ottawa. Ah, 'tis good to be a Renaissance man.

...Speaking of which, do check out my new page on the site of the Writers' Union of Canada. It's all about me, me, me, and can be found at http://www.writersunion.ca/d/deonan_r.htm.

...And speaking of web pages, do visit the latest changes to my Personal/Links section. Some of you will be pleased to find many new links to job search engines that specialize in Epidemiology, Health Research, International Health and International Development.

That's all for now. Bye bye.

Jan. 25, 2001

Well, here it is. The news I've waited six (ahem) years to report. I have finally defended my Ph.D. thesis. You may call me doctor, but, alas, I cannot write prescriptions.

Special thanks to Ed Wong, Sean McLoughlin and Andrew Currie for undertaking the arduous trek to London, Ontario, to both mock and cheer.

They even got me an autographed photo from Miss Nude Blone Canada! Huh? Are those pals, or what? Huh?

Dig my horroscope from swoon.com for the defence day:

Wednesday, January 24

You'll be particularly intuitive in meetings with strangers. Look deep within their souls and motives to determine what you can give and get. Partnerships will flourish as you put commonalities before differences. Petty disputes must not be allowed to negate all you've been through and meant to each other. Seek pleasure in spontaneity.

Okay, maybe not completely relevant, but you get the gist.

Jan. 2, 2001

Okay, it's 2001. Where's the monolith?

As many of you know, I'm a great fan of science-fiction. History has shown time and again that SF has predicted many of civilization's most resounding changes --atomic energy, flight, travel, governmental changes and social attitudes among them. But We the Geeky have been woefully distressed by the lack of impact provided by the fake turn-of-the-century last year, and the real turn-of-the-century two days ago. Sheesh, where's my flying car already?

As is my wont, I now list the most important events in my little life this past year, in no particular order.

  • Finishing my Ph.D. Sure, I don't defend it for another 3 weeks, but the real work is done. That's 6 years of my life finally done with. It's a hell I don't wish upon anyone --except those annoying people who think graduate students are somehow "avoiding the real world". Like your world is any more real than mine, Joe Lunchpail.
  • The wedding of my ex-girlfriend. You all know who she is. Both she and her husband are magnificent people who truly belong together, and I wish them nothing but happiness. For those of you who are aware of our 15-year drawn out saga, you understand that this is doubtlessly an important event in my life, too.
  • Winning the Guyana Prize for Best First Book. Well, any of this year's literary triumphs would have sufficed --Sweet Like Saltwater's excellent reviews, my many unexpected media appearances, grants from the Ontario and Toronto Arts Councils-- but the Guyana Prize represents both acceptance from the international arts community and an opportunity to reconnect with the land of my birth. (By the way, photos from Guyana are finally available on this site.)
  • Working as an Epidemiologist. While I've done a great deal of consulting work and some teaching in Epidemiology and related fields, 2000 marked my first full-time position as an Epidemiologist (for the Arthritis Community Research Evaluation Unit). It's nice to know that one can spend years training for a job, then be able to apply that training! Fear not, I continue to consult in both Epidemiology and Biotech Communications.

Well, that's rather depressing, isn't it? To be able to list life's key points for a whole year in just a single paragraph. Is this all we are? Four bullet points in Tahoma font? In truth, I recognize what a lucky man I am, in so many ways. I also recognize that tragedy is always just around the corner. So let's try to look back at the good things, at least for the moment.

...And let me list one last good thing for 2000: my realization that I have a new favourite band: Stereolab.