Knox College, Room 4, 59 St. George Street

between College & Harbord

Entrances on St. George and King's College Circle,

acessible entrance from lot on north side of Knox.

Street parking or lot available

Sunday, December 14, 2014

2 - 4:30 p.m.


A Concert Review by

George Meanwell, Musician

In the late 1970s George Meanwell was guitarist and vocalist with the acoustic Toronto-based folk trio Short Turn which appeared on national television and radio, including Morningside, 90 Minutes Live and George Hamilton IV. After a decade spent principally as a freelance cellist, he was Quartetto Gelato's founding cellist, guitarist and mandolinist in concerts throughout North America, Europe and Asia. In 2002 he returned to song writing, releasing Another Street (2003), Late (2008) and The Easy Straight (2013).

Between 2010 and 2013 he appeared on the Stratford Festival stage playing cello, guitars, banjo, harmonica and concertina. During that period he also performed six solo programs of his own music, Songs of Travel for Stratford Summer Music, and received an ensemble Dora nomination for the Kitchenband production of BOBLO. In 2013 he composed and performed the incidental music for the Festival Players of Prince Edward County production of The Notorious Right Robert and His Robber Bride. In 2014 he appeared in the Guild Festival Theatre production of The Importance of Being Earnest and a Canadian Stage workshop of a new play by Alon Nashman, Charlotte, A Tri-Coloured Play with Music.

"Solid musical skills, poetic craft, economy of words, style cleverness, quirky and insightful lyrics and a sense of polish that makes the recipient of the singing and writing feel they have just witnessed something special being created. Hey - I've just described what George Meanwell does, perfectly." Jurgen Gothe, CBC Radio

In this anecdotal show, first performed in Owen Sound, Hamilton and Picton this past summer and now for The Ulyssean Society's 37th anniversary meeting, George Meanwell reviews his life in music through a (mostly) chronological survey of his own original songs, works by Bach for the cello, music for banjo and concertina, and Shakespeare.

We collect unwrapped gifts for women and children served by Interval House

Visitors are welcome


ph: 416-410-1892




General Meetings

Sunday, January 11

TIME: 2-4:30 p.m.

PLACE: Knox College, 59 St. George St., Room 4

Topic: Wilfully Evolving the

Experience of Living

Speaker: Ted Engels

Systems Physicist, Psychotherapist, Healer

Mosaic Planning Lunch

Monday, January 5

12-1:30 p.m.

Granite Brewery &

Restaurant, 245 Eglinton Ave. East (entrance on Mt. Pleasant)

Contact: Daniel Karpinski

Inquiring Mind

Saturday, January 17

TIME: 2 to 4 p.m.

PLACE: Wychwood Library

Convener: Marie Paulyn

Memoir Writing

January date TBD

TIME: 2 to 4 p.m.

PLACE: Home of Virginia Rock

Near Bay and Bloor

Contact Virginia if interested

Play Reading

Date and location TBD

Contact Vivian Haar


General Meeting Report

November 9, 2014


 Presenter:  JOHN RAE, Human Rights Advocate

The meeting was opened by our President and Program Chair, Virginia Rock. Lois Linett

read the Creed and together both Lois and Jack Linnett lit the candle. It was a treasured moment to behold.

John Rae was introduced by Shirley Gibson. His first comment was that he found our Ulyssean Creed encouraging. John has long been a passionate advocate for human rights and a community organizer, which has led to an interesting life. He originally set out to study law, but realized after a year that the limited availability of accessible law books and other accommodation for vision-impaired students at that time would make it too difficult. He considered teaching history, but those secondary school positions had dried up at the time.

Some people believed in him and he was hired by the Ontario Public Service where he held varied positions in a career lasting 24 years. He was a consultant with the Centre for Disability and Work, an Education Officer with the Employment Equity Commission and a Program Officer with the Accessibility Directorate of Ontario. By then he had become too busy with other advocacy and outside interests, so he decided to take advantage of an early retirement opportunity. He is still extremely busy with community advocacy: on many boards, writing articles, lecturing and past president of the Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians; see the website at www.blindcanadians.ca (for all levels of the vision-impaired).

As a human rights advocate for people with disabilities, John was involved in amending the Canadian Charter of Rights to include people with disabilities, the last group to be included. Jean Chrétien stood up in Committee and accepted that amendment. The image of busloads of people with disabilities, possibly heading for Parliament Hill to protest, may have played a part.

However, discrimination remains. The largest percentage of cases before the Human Rights Tribunal comes from people with disabilities. This is in a country that claims to be a leader in human rights. Equity rights have not been achieved for the disabled. More disabled people are unemployed or underemployed or live in poverty.

Technology has been a benefit in accommodating disabilities but also is a negative, for example eliminating some jobs that the blind community formerly held, e.g. telephone operator, transcriber and darkroom technician. Technology has given access to more information than ever thought possible, but too many websites have information and links only in graphic form, making them invisible to software that vocalizes the content of screens.

The new Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg opened four of its 11 galleries on September 20; the others opened two days after our November General Meeting. John was on the Inclusive Design and Accessibility Committee, which worked tirelessly to educate on design and to transform it from what might have been much less accessible. There are struggles at most museums about what is reasonable for blind visitors to access, especially in the area of tactile access, one of John's pet initiatives. Too many organizations serving people with disabilities do not seek their opinion, and most these days are strapped for resources.

John briefly covered a number of current disability issues:

- Assisted suicide is the toughest issue. Though most Canadians are in favour, people with disabilities are split but largely against, seeing it as a slippery slope needing strict safeguards if implemented.

- The CRTC should require broadcasters to offer more described video. Remote controls needing sighted help and touch screens are also problems.

- Access to buildings and to washrooms ("the right to pee"), especially in older buildings is still a huge problem.

- Access to websites should be fixed by proper design.

- Conditions should be put on government procurement to require that everyone is able to use the purchased good or service. Canada and Ontario could be leaders, as happened when dictation software was developed and appealed more widely.

- Human rights cases require a lot of time and energy, with many cases decided on legal technicalities. Settlements may not be made public, so there is no educational value for the general public or businesses or other organizations.

- Voting is an important act for citizens, but processes at many levels require someone else to mark the ballot for a vision-impaired person. Voters should be able to mark and verify their own votes; moves to telephone and on-line voting will help many with disabilities as well as increase general voter participation. Voting officials receive insufficient training to learn all the processes.

In closing, John urged everyone to participate between elections to fight the anti-people atmosphere and the cut-cut-cut mentality, and to forge community-oriented visions with more attention to disability issues--1/7 of the population has a disability. Many disability issues are caused by community barriers, though too often seen as medical problems. The power balance won't change until there is more diversity in boardrooms, media and political office. We all have a part to play by advocating with letters to newspapers and politicians.

A lively discussion followed, starting with Carol Farkas pointing out how one instant can change any able-bodied person into one with a disability and mobility problems. More of us develop various disabilities as we live longer.

Another Carol, a guest, spoke about the slow response to the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, with its lack of enforcement and progress review, leading to delayed progress to meet the 2025 deadline. Even the TTC slowed the program to make all subway stations accessible. Government funding to help with these goals would help.

Daniel Karpinski, our Vice President and an architect, agreed there are good standards for new buildings but not for retrofitting; a change in thinking is required.

Denise Altschul thanked John for his presentation, reflecting his strong convictions and ongoing efforts.

- Shirley Gibson and Joan Appelby


After a break for refreshments and conversation, Daniel Karpinski introduced two members presenting short topics in the Mosaic, Carol Farkas and Pat Bisset.

Carol showed us photos of a six-sided foot-long stick with many intricate figures carved into each side, also passing it around for our closer inspection. She found it in her basement after her late husband died, and no one could remember seeing it before. After similarities to Tibetan plaques were noticed, her research eventually led to it being identified as a Zan Par. She shared the information found so far on its background and use. With two experts coming to see it a few days after our meeting, she promised to give us an update. (See blow.)

Pat Bisset shared the story of the popular song "When You and I Were Young, Maggie," often wrongly assumed to be American. George Johnson, a schoolteacher from Hamilton, Ontario, fell in love with and married his student Maggie. Sadly, she died of TB at age 23. He wrote the poem after seeing her grave, but imagined that they grew older together. Later James Butterfield composed the music. Pat sang a lovely a cappella version of the song.

She also sang Pete Seeger's humorous song about aging, "Get Up and Go." Chorus: "How do I know my youth is all spent? / My get up and go has got up and went / But in spite of it all I'm able to grin / And think of the places my get up has been." She was asked when the song was written and Shirley Gibson offered to look it up, as she has a book Pete Seeger wrote about his songs. The update: around 1960 he found a poem on the back of a roadside diner menu for which he wrote additional lines and the music. He was unable to trace the author, but some remember a pre-WWI version.

Shirley shared a humorous bit to end the Mosaic, and Linda Stitt read the Ulyssean Benediction and extinguished the candle to close the meeting.

- Shirley Gibson

Further on the Tibetan Zan Par

At the November meeting of The Ulyssean Society I gave a brief talk about my newly identified 6-sided Tibetan Zan Par stick, which has 105 carved images. The information I gave about the Zan Par was obtained from the internet and a scholarly paper, "The Ritual Significance of Zan Par," sent to me by Zara Fleming, a British researcher. It was unfortunate that the November meeting came a week before I would meet face to face with Toronto Zan Par experts. I can now report additional information about the stick.

The Venerable Khenpo Kunga Sherab, scholar in residence and master degree student in the Centre for Studies of Religion at the University of Toronto, and Professor Frances Garrett came for tea and to see the stick on November 22nd.

Kunga Sherab entered the Tegar Monastery in Sikkim at an early age and he obtained his Kempo degree, equal to Abbot or PhD in 2005. He taught for more than 20 years in Sikkim and India, and is author of many works on Buddhist studies.

Frances Garrett is an associate professor in the Centre for Studies of Religion, and the Centre for South Asian Studies as well as a faculty member of the Munk School of Global Affairs.

WOW!!!!!! AND they are willing to come to The Ulyssean Society to share their knowledge.

Prior to their coming I found a photo from my late husband Brian Scorthorne and my visit to Tibet. It showed me buying an ink print at the Deprung Gomang Monestary, near Lhasa. The Zan Par was probably from there!

Frances and Kunga were delighted to see my Zan Par. They marveled at the amazing detailed carved images. These were not done by a monk but by a trusted artisan. Kunga had witnessed the Zan Par being used as a scapegoat to eliminate an individual's demons or obstacles in rural Tibet. Mantras would be said before barley flour would be mixed with yak milk to make a paste which was pressed into certain images on the stick, determined to be appropriate for the person's needs. The image would either be thrown out the door or placed on a Gtor, a triangular tower made of dough and placed on an altar in a temple. The image on the Gtor would be crushed and destroyed after mantras were said.

On one end of my Zan Par is a carved door, for evil or good to enter or exit. On the other end is a penis, an indicator of benefit, prosperity, and guarantee of many children! Images representing winged creatures could be used to eliminate headaches; many images were symbols of astronomy, water creatures, insects and mythical creatures. The monk would know what was best to use.

Both Frances and Kunga thought that my Zan Par was not made for tourists. Frances was able to obtain smaller Zan Pars by showing her interest in them to monks at Tibetan monasteries. So most likely Brian showed interest and my Zan Par stick was just offered, not purchased.

As well as finding out more about my mysterious stick, I have two new friends. We will keep in touch.

- Carol Farkas

Member News, Events, etc.

Our sincere condolences to Kwan Shum whose sister passed away on November 26. Kwan was able to spend much time with her at the hospital during her illness. For members who haven't attended lately and haven't met Kwan, she brought her enthusiasm and ideas to both the Society and the Steering Committee in early 2013.

Virginia Rock has been suffering severe pain since she fell while getting into a taxi on November 29. She is at home, and hopes to be healed enough to attend our anniversary meeting on December 14.

Linda Stitt's Words and Music Salon continues the first Saturday of each month (January 3, February 7) at 1:30-4:30 p.m., each with six invited guest performers. The Portobello has become the Vino Rosso, still at 995 Bay St. just north of Wellesley, with a new interior look, a modified menu and a dozen or so more seats. It still has the same fine community feel, with many Ulyssean members attending. Watch for more information at www.lindastitt.com, where photos from the last two sessions will give you a preview of the look and a review of past performances. The December 6 salon was the last for the photo and video recording (to be posted soon) as Linda's daughter Paula retires from that "job," but past sessions remain on line.

AGM-Related Requests

The Ulyssean Society Annual General Meeting (AGM) should be held by the end of March, and the Steering Committee (SC) has chosen Saturday March 28 as the preferred date. Suggestions for a possible meeting location are being sought now as the members-only event can fit in a room holding 20-25. The condo community room provided by Helen and John von der Lieth worked very well, but is no longer available to us as they have moved.

Act II Studio Information Session

Act II Studio's Information Day is Wednesday January 7, 10:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., with an 11:00 a.m. presentation on the benefits and opportunities by Artistic Director Vrenia Ivonoffski. Attendees will learn about the courses and activities offered by this unique theatre school for adults 50 and older. Since its inception in 1988, it has grown and become known internationally as a leader in the unique area of older adult theatre education and creativity, including acting, directing, playwriting and more. Shirley Gibson will be among the members on hand to welcome newcomers. She plans to bring some copies of 2014/15 program catalogue to the December 14 Ulyssean meeting.

The event location is Ryerson's Jorgenson Hall, POD 250 (on the second floor at the north end of the building; 380 Victoria Street at Gerrard, just east of Yonge, between College and Dundas subway stations; parking garage on Victoria with entrance from Dundas). More info at www.act2studio.ca, act2@ryerson.ca or 416 979-5000 ext 6297. Note that the Ryerson campus closes December 20 through January 4.

Act II Studio 2015 Bus Trips

Ulyssean members are welcome on these trips, and several took advantage of the opportunity in the past. No trips were organized in 2014, but two trips have been announced for 2015:

May 27 (Wednesday) Taming of the Shrew, Stratford Festival

Oct 7 (Wednesday) Sweet Charity, Shaw Festival

Bus, lunch and matinee performance will be included. Details will be announced later, but these opportunities may influence your individual plans since the two festivals are commencing ticket sales.

- Shirley Gibson

President's Important Message

Virginia Rock announced at the November 22 meeting of the Steering Committee that she will retire as President effective the end of our March AGM (Annual General Meeting). She is willing to continue as Program Chair and will be available for the memoir group she facilitates. She has been President since April 2011, when she added presidency to her other two roles. Here is the statement she prepared for the Steering Committee:

"While strictly Presidential responsibilities alone are not unbearably onerous, the combination along with the responsibility I feel for filling in gaps has induced considerable stress, making it difficult for me to concentrate on and be productive with my personal project: the writing of my memoirs, now a driving need.

"Presidential responsibilities include organizing, chairing and preparing agendas for general meetings, the AGM and Steering Committee meetings, writing the President's yearly report for the AGM.

"Whether I have been unwise about letting my sense of responsibility dedicated to The Ulyssean Society become so time-consuming, the fact is it has. In a way, maintaining the character and quality of the Society, as manifested in Entre Nous, has become a personal creed. The combination of being President and Program Chair has been an enriching experience I am grateful for."

A meeting in January, likely the Mosaic portion of our January 11 program meeting, will be devoted to a discussion of future plans.

Shirley Gibson also needs to decrease her involvement; she is still covering the computer-based secretarial (and newsletter and some other) duties.

Interval House

The Ulyssean Society has a long tradition of members bringing to our December meeting unwrapped gifts for women and children who are escaping abuse through Interval House. If you prefer, you may buy a gift card or make a tax-deductible donation (details are below).

A wish list has been provided by Interval House-clothing including winter accessories (hats, scarves, mittens) for children and women; unopened toiletries for all ages of boys, girls and women; gift certificates for toys, books, movies, music, department and electronics.

Babies and infants: toys, stuffed animals, receiving blankets, soothers, baby bottles, diapers/wipes, diaper bags, blankets are particularly welcome

Toddlers: learning books, blocks, sports equipment (e.g. soccer balls, bowling sets) Children: board games, musical instruments, music paraphernalia (recordings-Justin Bieber, One Direction), books, Lego sets, craft and art supplies, science kits, dolls

Pre-teens and teens: make up, exercise and sports equipment, wallets, board games, comic books, books, arts and crafts material (sketch pads, paints, beading), musical instruments (kids' guitar, bongos, keyboard, shakers, xylophone), electronics, DVDs, (for teens) tickets to Raptors or Leafs or popular concerts.

Monetary gifts automatically trigger tax receipts for more than $15, on request for lesser amounts. Cheques payable to Interval House, including your address, may be handed to Daniel Karpinski who will take all gifts to Interval House following our meeting on the 14th; cheques may also be mailed later to Interval House, 131 Bloor Street West, Suite 200, Toronto, Ontario M5S 1R8 Phone: 416-924-1411 ext. 231 if there are any questions. One-time or monthly donations may also be made by phone or at www.intervalhouse.com.

If you have web access, look at their site for an overview of their residential, community and advocacy programs.

Why I Am Happy

By Beverly Bloom

Happy about my progress

pleased about my growth

Many words flow from my mouth

succinct and concise.

Intellectually spurting out

a whole conglomeration of ideas

Emotionally connecting the inner

to the outer.

Spiritually tapping into my essence

embracing the unpredictable ride through life.

Feet firmly planted

on the ground

As I spread my wings

to take off and soar

Realizing my vast capacity

I am happy.

The Gut Has a Mind of its Own at November Inquiring Mind

There is more to "gut feeling" than feeling; intuition really does come from the gut. Have you ever wondered why you get cramps when you are stressed? why your gut tells you not to trust a certain person? Scientists say it is because the body has two brains-one in our skull and one in our gut, known as the enteric nervous system or more familiarly as the solar plexus. It holds about 100 million neurons more than in our spinal cord.

In yoga philosophy it is called the third chakra, the centre of will and decisions. Dr. Michael Gershon, chairman of the Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology at Columbia University, says, "Every neurotransmitter that exists in the brain also exists in the gut. Without exception our two brains are interconnected; 2,000 nerve fibres connect them and enable the two of them to talk. When one gets upset, the other one does too." Therefore, a gut feeling isn't just a poetic image used to convey intuition, it arises from the interplay between the two brains.

Professor Emeran Mayer, who teaches medicine and physiology at the University of California (Los Angeles), says, "It is a body loop which is activated every time we are being stressed, challenged or are puzzled by something. From a lifetime of activating this body loop, we learn to interpret this feedback as good or bad."

Intuition has long been disregarded by scientists as mere "fluff;" however, now that the enteric nervous system has been acknowledged (and it is fairly new), scientists are investigating it. Cognitive scientist Alexandre Linhares says, "I do not feel that emotions and intuitions can be separated." Emotions guide how we learn from experience.

Intuition can be described as "almost immediate situation understanding" as opposed to "immediate knowledge." We do not obtain knowledge of fear, love or danger; we "feel" them in a meaningful way.

Intuitions compel us to act in specific ways. It is said that those who completely lack intuition are essentially cognitively impaired. (Many of these statements are part of a feature article in the June 2007 Psychology Today.)

Discussing the same topic from a different angle, Malcolm Gladwell, in his book, Blink, mentions that we make unconscious choices literally in the blink of an eye and he asks why our best decisions are often those that are impossible to explain rationally. The part of our brain that leaps to conclusions in this way is called "the adaptive unconscious." This is not to be confused with Freud's unconscious; it is the unconscious of the body, the inner wisdom of every cell.

Each person's second brain reacts differently; if you think everybody feels the same way when your gut does something, you are in deep trouble. The gut reaction is based on many experiences, it is unique to each one of us. Trust it, it may save your life.

- Marie Paulyn

A review of Einstein Wrote Back by John Moffat

John Moffat is currently a theoretical physicist at the Perimeter Institute at Waterloo, Ontario. In his memoir, Einstein Wrote Back, he recounts how, as a youth in Copenhagen (his mother was Danish, his father British) with an undistinguished academic record, he suddenly became aware of a remarkable aptitude for advanced mathematics and physics. In just one year, using public library materials, he taught himself physics up to university graduate level. He then wrote to Einstein, commenting on and discussing his recent papers. Amazingly, Einstein replied, and a year-long correspondence ensued. (This was just a few years before Einstein's death.)

This in turn led to an interview with Niels Bohr and, with the aid of a British diplomat in Copenhagen, to a meeting with Erwin Schrodinger, one of the founders of quantum mechanics (who was at that time heading the theoretical physics institute in Dublin that was created specifically to lure him there). Moffat was then admitted to graduate school at Trinity College Cambridge where, without ever having obtained an undergraduate degree, he earned a PhD under the supervision of Fred Hoyle and Abdus Salam.

In the course of a subsequent long career as a theoretical physicist he encountered a good many of the giants of 20th-century physics, including Wolfgang Pauli and Paul Dirac. He relates a number of amusing anecdotes about these brilliant and often quirky individuals. An example is Dirac being asked by a journalist if he agrees with the description of him as one of the greatest contemporary physicists. The notoriously taciturn Dirac replies "No." When asked why, Dirac says "Because I received only one Nobel prize."

Moffat eventually was appointed as a full professor at the University of Toronto, despite never having previously taught a class, but evidently performing successfully in that role as well.

He has in recent years been promoting a theory known as MOG (MOdified Gravity) which is a revision of Einstein's General Relativity Theory. MOG asserts that dark matter does not exist and that the speed of light was once much higher than at present. It is a distinctly minority position in the physics community.

The book is written in a very engaging style and I highly recommend it. No knowledge of physics is needed to enjoy this remarkable story.

- Marvin Goody

Guests are welcome at our meetings

Invite your friends, relatives, acquaintances,

fellow students in the courses you take,

members in other groups you are in

Become an active part of your Society

Help it to continue to function well

The Ulyssean mantra - A guiding principle