The Further Adventures of Osbert Chung

Bert: commuter on skis*

Our concierge, Bert, recently shared some of his further adventures. I’ve already blogged about how Bert, who grew up in a small village in Jamaica, living in a small mud hut with his family, ended up working as a.d.c. to the Queen of England herself. On her recent visit last year, he even had a private audience with Her Majesty and Prince Philip, and got to hear all about their impressions of Canada.

A few days ago, Bert brought in some new photos, of another era in his life, in which he took up water skiing and launched a successful extravaganza spectacle on water skis. All the performers wore costumes (Batman and Robin, Wonder Woman etc.) and entertained tourists at the various posh hotels on the coast of Jamaica. This turned out to be a very well-paid gig, and the photos he shared were great fun–both of the show, and of everyone signing autographs after. He moved to Canada soon after and took up downhill skiing–and ended up serving as a model for an advertisement–though I’m not sure what the advertisement was actually for!

*This photo was from Bert’s own collection. I do not know the source, nor the name of the photographer. If you are the owner of this photo’s copyright, please get in touch regarding attributions and permissions, or if you would rather I take it down, just let me know!

Eschatological observation #1

I find it somehow interesting that one of the major companies that supplies us with personal portals into the biggest repository of knowledge we have ever assembled over the course of human history, uses a symbol as its mark of trade that hearkens back to one of our most famous stories of creation–and of downfall.

This struck me last year in class, as I sat near the front of the room and turned to see which computers people were using. A lot of apples, with single bites taken out of them, glowing back at me: yea, for I have partaken of the fruit of the tree of knowledge.

The circle is complete.


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Lincoln’s law office…

In Springfield, IL. We visited his home as well. The surrounding streets have now been restored to what they were like when he lived there, before assuming the presidency. It’s a pleasant walk along shady, unpaved streets. To get to the law office, you have to leave the historical recreation and walk into the city–but it’s still interesting to realize that this was one of the possible routes Honest Abe himself would have followed as part of his daily on-foot commute, back in the halcyon days before he became president and found himself facing the prospect of a dis-integration of the nation.


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I find this building a powerful symbol of urban abandonment. It is visible as you cross the border via Windsor into Detroit, and seems intact at a distance. But look closer–no windows. The downtown is a crumbling shell with grass pushing up between slabs of concrete and gaping maws of jagged broken windows.


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A Summer Storm

It poured outside. And I snuggled up on the loveseat, listening to the sound of the rain outside, and TCN playing the piano inside. Loki sauntered up and shared the moment. It was idyllic–one of those suspended fragments of time that I’ll remember for years to come. I love the sound and sight of the summer thundershowers. And the intense, immense green. To quote Lorca: “Verde, que te quiero verde…” (green, how I love/want you green)

It was like a Tarkovsky movie, except real, and sans the infusion of implacable melancholy.

Humber Arboretum

TCN had to go up to Humber (north campus) to pick up some software, and so I came along for the ride. While I found the campus buildings themselves somewhat bleak, claustrophobic (sorry anyone who loves that campus. I’m definitely a south campus fan, myself) and isolated, they do have an arboretum there, which is quite lovely. There are beautiful gardens, and walking trails in the forest. Though the roar of the traffic from the nearby highway undercut any illusion of getting away from it all, we still had a pleasant time wandering about there, after TCN’s business was complete.

The Living Tree

One of the core metaphors of Constitutional Interpretation here in Canada is that of the living tree. The idea is that we should read the Constitution in such a way as to leave room for future growth and change, while still respecting that there must be connection with past. In other words: we don’t want to freeze things in place by looking only at ideas the authors (aka “framers”) would have had at the time it was formulated–thus limiting and boxing in our rights. But we also don’t want to jump out into left field by radically departing from previous precedents. It is meant to be connected (like branches and offshoots), incremental and unified by a core set of ideas (a trunk, as it were). So, we often call the constitution a living tree, which is a lovely image.

I have, accordingly, christened the tree in front of Flavelle, between the two buildings of the law school, “the living tree”. It seemed appropriate.

Sent from my mobile, so please pardon any typos!