Familial introductions, crime, and bias in blogging

2005-11-19

in Daily updates, Oxford

Leaves near Manor Road

This morning, I had a walk and a cup of coffee with Margaret. After so much telephonic interaction, it was good to see her in person. I also received a very kind birthday card and gift from my family back in Canada. I’ve been affixing the various cards I receive to the non-painted surfaces in my room and they do much to give the place a bit of character.

For those who don’t know, my parents and youngest brother live in North Vancouver, in the house near Edgemont Village where I lived between second and twelfth grade. My mother’s name is Alena and, in addition to teaching English as a second language, she does a lot of volunteer work. Because of the demographics in North Vancouver, she teaches a lot of Iranians. With luck (and a visa that is still being awaited) she will be visiting Teheran in the spring of next year to see friends and former students. Aside from teaching, my mother is a very active reader and the source of the great body of excellent novels that fill the shelves of the house. My father, Oleh, is a lawyer at the firm Miller Thomson – where I have also worked, upon occasion. By far the most physically active member of my family, he plays squash, cycles a great deal, hikes, runs, and is a source of enthusiasm behind familial wilderness adventures: including the Powell Forest Canoe Circuit trip and the first and second Bowron Lakes adventures. One of his more notable adventures recently was working as an electoral monitor in Ukraine during the Orange Revolution.

My brother Sasha, still in high school, lives with my parents. He is on both the junior and senior improv teams at my old high school. Improv is actually an activity he inherited from my middle brother Mica, who is now at UBC. Several times, Mica went to the national championships in improvisational comedy: once on the same team as my friends Hilary and Alison. In his last year of high school, Mica’s team won the national tournament. Last year, the team that Sasha captained won the provincial championship. A player of baseball and soccer, Sasha is also a fanatical devotee of World of Warcraft: within which he runs a business exchanging characters and gold for real money. Of the three brothers, he seems to be the one with the most entrepreneurial aptitude.

Mica is definitely the foremost dramatist of the trio: with starring roles in several of the major shows put on by my high school, as well as the production of Damn Yankees at UBC last year. He is also probably the most athletic of the three of us. While I did not persist long in sunny baseball afternoons and rainy soccer mornings, Mica had quite a bit of dedication – especially as a pitcher. He now seems to pour a lot of his energy into making videos, many of which are quite excellent. Studying history, he was in the Arts One program last year, and intends to do his teaching certificate once he finishes his undergraduate degree.

One of the most difficult aspects of spending two years in England will be either not seeing or barely seeing my brothers over that course of time. While I do keep in touch with them over MSN and through things like the blog, it’s certain that the next two years will bring some huge changes for both of them. While I am sure they will both do very well – they have talents which I lack and envy, as well as the sense of humour which is so critical to maintaining sanity – it will be unfortunate to see it from such a distance. I hope very much that they will visit me here. The last photo in this collection shows my brothers and I at my departure party.

One thing that people find confusing is that only Sasha, my father, and I have the same last name. When my parents wed, my mother kept her last name. Furthermore, they agreed to alternate the family names of children, beginning with my mother’s in the case of a female child and my father’s in the case of a male child. It strikes me as a fair and sensible way to go about it.


I got one piece of distressing news over Skype from my mother today. Apparently, Sasha and his friend Jonah got mugged by four 2″x4″ wielding thugs on their way home from improv practice a couple of days ago. Sasha knew one of the assailants from school. They were after money and iPods and, despite Sasha’s efforts to talk them out of it, they persisted in making threats of violence. Luckily, Sasha and his friend were able to run away and gain sanctuary in a stranger’s house. Apparently, the police are unwilling to press any charges, despite the fact that they caught all four of the would-be thieves, because nobody was hurt. To me, that seems extremely irresponsible and an encouragement to such thuggishness. They did, however, commend Sasha for his handling of the situation. 

I was unsuccessfully mugged twice in North Vancouver while in high school: once with Jonathan on Highland road by a couple of snowboarders and once in Edgemont Village with Chevar by one of my classmates. The second time was at knifepoint, right in the middle of a sunny afternoon. In neither case did I have any money on me, as I am in the habit of almost never doing so. The fact that the police have never managed to do much of anything when any member of my family has been robbed or burgled does not create great confidence. I am extremely glad, in any case, that nothing too bad befell Sasha or his friend. Hopefully, the four thieves will find cause to devote their energies to something more productive and socially acceptable, even if the authorities are unwilling to compel it.


One last item. You hear bandied about a lot of talk about liberal bloggers, conservative bloggers, and bias overall on the internet. To me, such labeling risks being counterproductive. Just because you can categorize someone in one way or another doesn’t let you anticipate or automatically ignore their ideas. It’s absurd to think the complex political and ethical questions of the day can be answered along a single axis of difference. It’s equally absurd to think that a polarized community willing to completely ignore the arguments and positions of others will lead to the advancement in knowledge, thinking, or ethics. Open, civil debate must be the approach taken. 

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{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

Anonymous November 19, 2005 at 3:14 am

I have just shipped your birthday & Christmas present, with fingers crossed that it will be there by the 28th. The only hint you will get as to the nature of this gift, is that it is something you once thought was SOOO cool… (and it does not come from Think Geek.com) Go on, guess!

Meghan

V.A.K November 19, 2005 at 8:50 am

Your comment on my blog was a bit of a surprise as very few people know about its existence. I guess I forgot to log out of my own blog before browsing through yours. It wasn’t my intention to have you see it, and I suppose the idea of total privacy on the net is a ridiculous notion. The damn thing would have revealed itself eventually. Just remember that some things are said (or written)out of anger, and are therefore not necessarily true.
It was nice to hear from you, anyways.

Milan November 19, 2005 at 10:32 am

@MLM

Thank you very much. You really didn’t need to do anything elaborate, but I am very excited to see what it is.

@V.A.K.
Just so you know, anyone who clicks your name on the comment above, scrolls down to the bottom of your profile, and clicks the title of your blog can find it quite easily. If you want to change that, just edit your profile so that none of your blogs are shown.

B November 19, 2005 at 1:00 pm

Lucky fellow – so well remembered.

Anonymous November 19, 2005 at 5:19 pm

You had better post at least one or two quasi-scandalous pictures from the Queer Bop! Maybe not on the blog – so clearly linked to your name – but somewhere more anonymous

Milan January 22, 2006 at 12:54 am

I find it personally very amusing that people are finding my blog with searches like: “palladian talent tree world of warcraft”

Anonymous March 4, 2006 at 2:58 am

Anyone know what are the good talents one should learn for a level 15 Pally?

Milan March 4, 2006 at 3:03 am

People coming here looking for information on World of Warcraft are certain to be let down. I’ve never even played the game and we do not discuss it here.

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