tigers, humans and creative hunting

There is more than animal preservation to today’s Globe and Mail’s article, ‘In South Africa, Chinese tigers claw their way back to life.’  I was initially drawn to this article by the tigers but I carried away a more lasting curiosity about the founders of this tiger effort.

Fashion and investments seem very remote businesses from the survival of tigers – as much as we might like to make predatory metaphors for both industries.  Yet this article explains that fashion executive, Li Quan and U.S banker, Stuart Bray founded an experimental project to increase the survival efforts of one of the most endangered tiger species.  The project introduced the South China tigers to a larger and wilder reservation in South Africa which was met with criticism from conservation experts.

What makes these two people pursue this project so outside their industries, and with controversy?  More typical would be to see executives attending gala events or celebrities having concerts where all the money goes to the experts to do things like end poverty forever.

The cost and the work to establish this project have been huge and 13 years later is still under criticism, despite a dramatic increase in this reserves’ breeding and survival rate.  What is their motivation?

And why do they work so hard to preserve something that would eat us if they had a chance?  Why don’t we stick to pandas?  Is there a common denominator that drew me to this article and these founders to this project?

The ability to step away from the workday and put our minds to the conservation of that which is natural and powerful, reminds us that we still have a little of this in ourselves.  It is what keeps us from being swept up in our daily lives and being led more than leading.  It keeps us creative in our hunting and hunters for new game.  Through this charitable organization, these two people have allowed themselves to have a story a little less ordinary.

For a further read into this article as well as other facts towards this conservation effort, please click on the following links:

  1. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/world/in-south-africa-chinese-tigers-claw-their-way-back-to-life/article12594753/
  2. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Save_China’s_Tigers
  3. http://www.savechinastigers.org/
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food writers: a literary dine-out

gluten-free-restaurantsThe work of food writers should not be exclusively enjoyed by food lovers.  I spent last Friday afternoon giggling over reviews of the Stock restaurant in Toronto.  Good food writers take you on an unique palatable experience full of sense and satire, and the timing of a stand-up comic.  I think it comes from eating a lot of good and bad food.  Eating is a personal and sensuous experience.  Regular bad dining would make a hostile satirist out of anybody.  A good dining experience would have to be exceptional for those who must eat themselves out a lot.

My boss asked me to look into the Stock for a business lunch and I was intrigued by the ‘chocolate-lab’ that the poorly designed restaurant website showcased.  So I spent part of the afternoon falling into some brilliantly unimpressed reviews of this restaurant.

menus-business-cards-restaurant-28166569One of my long-time favourite food writers is Corey Mintz who writes a weekly column called FED for the Toronto Star food section.  Food is paramount to his writing and this appears to have armed him with the most essential elements of a great storyteller: passion for his subject, tons of experience with his subject, and thus, the ability to fully experience a moment, at least in a kitchen or restaurant.

Better than flash fiction; though the experiences are real, they hold the creative flavour of great story.  Check out a local food column or blog for a literary sweet.

  1. More than chopped liver – by Corey Mintz http://www.thestar.com/life/food_wine/2013/05/16/more_than_chopped_liver.html
  2. Turkey again – by Corey Mintz: http://www.thestar.com/life/food_wine/2012/12/20/ducks_are_an_elegant_alternative_to_turkey_for_christmas_dinner_1.html
  3. Stock Restaurant review: Trump Tower’s lunch is overvalued – by Amy Pataki: http://www.thestar.com/life/food_wine/restaurants/2012/03/30/stock_restaurant_review_trump_towers_lunch_is_overvalued.html
  4. MB900448711The Trump Tower’s Stock: A veal chop for $48? That’s rich – by Joanne Kates http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/food-and-wine/restaurant-reviews/the-trump-towers-stock-a-veal-chop-for-48-thats-rich/article550625/
  5. Chowhound – a web-board for passionate foodies http://chowhound.chow.com/boards

Surveying Literary Journals

I was recently asked to survey a Canadian-wide distributed literary journal.  The survey was designed to determine how and how often I read their journal, who I was in terms of their demographic and what I liked and disliked about their journal.

My response reminded me of the various stages and avenues that I take and have taken as a writer who seems destined to always be ‘new.’  The ‘new’ part, though I am not as young as the word makes me sound, is something I have learned to appreciate.  I will always be a student to my art-form.

image c/o Awin Literature

Below is the comments section response that I left with this survey:

Thank you for allowing me to take part in your survey. 

To be honest, I have not been drawn to a literary journal for a long time.   

When I did buy or borrow journals it was to, as advised by the Submission Guidelines, read the journal prior to submission.  Though lucky enough to be published in a few small lit journals as a wee lass, I must admit, I saved these books just to look at my own work, in print, once in a while.  

If I look to enjoy new short fiction and poetry these days, I do searches on the internet and find a wealth of writers who are current, active, connected and free.  Blog-sites have become interesting hubs for writers.  I would rather subscribe to one artist’s journey than to a literary journal.  I find the experience more personal and vital. 

Another great way to connect with new short fiction and poetry, as well as the people who write them, is to join writing groups either locally or virtually, or create your own.  Surprisingly, the last magazine to tickle me with their creative, non-fiction, writing skills was the CFA Magazine for Chartered Financial Analysts.  

If I look for guidelines or instruction on how to improve me as an artist, I look to all art-forms and all kinds of artists to inspire and motivate me.   This is always best when done live and in-person if you can get it that way. 

When I think of writing my own fiction and poetry, I no longer put my hope in literary journals to publish or validate me as a writer.  For me, it is more important to write to write rather than to write to publish.  For that reason, wordpress.com and online self-publishing has helped me continue to write outside the shadow of my solitude and be open to other artists and the public.

Sincerely,

lillian y wong (lyw)

Chartered Financial Analyst or Creative Financial Artist?

Admittedly, sitting in on weekly investment team meetings for an administrative day job is not my idea of creative inspiration.  In the past few months that I have been with this contract job, I’ve contemplated meditating my way through these meetings since for the most part I do not understand what they are laughing about, very few action items arise from these discussions and they spend a large amount of time staring at graphs and charts in silence — but they need me to change the slides on the projector screen.  Oh, how they need me to do that.

Admin is still admin, whatever industry I find myself in.  All executives have pretty much the same executive needs.  All offices operate pretty much the same as other offices.  However, the lingo of investments was quickly not earning any charm it never had with me.

Cover Page of CFA Magazine March April 2013The writers for the CFA Magazine (as in Chartered Financial Analyst) gave me a refreshing correction.  I began flipping through my boss’ copy of the magazine during some downtime and thoroughly enjoyed (and understood!) a powerful balance of logic and passion.

The cover is what first lured me.  It read ‘Time-Bomb Zombie Swans from Outer Space’ with a clever and colourful illustration of a Godzilla-like black swan and fleeing, open-mouthed pedestrians in an urban setting.  In this issue, amid the solid, yet sometimes boring structure of financial logic runs playful probabilities and absurd humour, which is apparent by the cover piece alone.

This kind of journalism is not dumbed-down as is common in most general reading yet it has entertainment value that involves the variety of everyday life.  This makes all the difference to me: to find common ground where I didn’t expect to find any from a perspective that is alternative to me.

In this world of Chartered Financial Analysts, though the plot doesn’t change much, the stuff of all great stories comes into play.  In the March/April issue, one article discussed  emotional intelligence for investors better than any women’s lifestyle magazine I ever peaked through.  Another article discussed religion and social responsibility in, ‘Islamic Finance and Socially Responsible Investing.’

My favourite article, in this issue, was Ralph Wanger’s article, ‘Heads, You Win.’ I ignorantly never thought to read a CFA article referencing Tom Stoppard or dramatic theatre.  I also never thought an equation could be beautiful but I appreciated being presented with that possibility and a mind that did.  The article was educational not just to my own common logic.

When we talk about trying new cultures, Investments and Finance seem strange countries to venture.  And like most trying cultures, a taste sample often only perpetuates false conclusions.  Immersion is the way to go.  I appreciate that I would have never jumped down this rabbit-hole, if it had not been for this administrative desk job.  Sadly, I suspect I am probably one of very few non-CFA readers of this magazine.

the Search for Feng Shui

Feng shui is a style of design that can be applied to the furniture of your business, house and mind.  It’s fun to think that the art of design can be applied that widely.  Leaves one with the feeling of being well-covered.

When I got my first apartment in my twenties, I did a little feng shui research and applied what suited me to the space.  I didn’t go overboard despite promises of immeasurable fortune or misfortune if I put or didn’t put this or that in my place because from all those rules there seemed to be a general gist that was the main wise to get: feng shui is the cultivation of flow, harmony and balance in any space I choose to occupy, though usually referring to a physical space, feng shui is also applicable to virtual, mental and artistic spaces.

And, I thought to myself, if that’s the case, I should be able to rely — at least a little bit – on my own heart and mind to tell me what gives me a sense of harmony and balance.  If not, how can anybody else?

A random Internet search on this subject leads to a lot of dubious websites and consultants that imply my life and luck is dependent on what sofa I have and how I place it.  Feng shui is very old.  Along the way it shouldn’t be surprising that some people have profited by stimulating this practice with our deepest fears and insecurities.

However, there is a lot of good wisdom to be found in feng shui.  It sticks out like a nice piece of solid oak.

For example:

Don’t place things in your way: Good idea.  Yet, who has not seen or been guilty of blocking a doorway or staircase with stuff?  How many written reports have taken several paragraphs to get to the real story?  How many websites are weighed down by graphics, blings or text that don’t help direct traffic or information to the purpose of the site?

Don’t have pointy or sharp edges facing your body: (ie table corners).  Some call this superstition; others would say it’s just good safety.

Balance your elements:  Dark/light; soft/hard; water/fire (go easy on the fire elements); earth/air.

Cut clutter: What we bring into a space, changes the energy of that space.  Be conscious of the things that you let into your space and really consider their necessity and purpose.  Clutter has a way of finding itself in our path and requires regular maintenance.

I don’t think I would ever pay somebody to apply feng shui to my lifestyle.  The information online, feng shui or not, is full of dark omens and good fortune.   I trust my own heart to know what wise is or isn’t.   What does it say about a consultant if their information on how to create flow and harmony, leaves the client feeling trapped, rigid and afraid to make choices on his/her own?

The process of exploring feng shui can also be a practice in self-discovery.  I become my own consultant and personal designer to my sense of peace and harmony.  Wouldn’t it be nice if the idea of letting somebody else design that kind of space becomes the truly foreign concept?

Some links on feng shui: