Friday, November 30, 2007

So You Think You're Good?

Then let's just see how good you really are.
Once and for all.

And let me know how you make out.

Spot The Fake Smile

Me ... not so good.
But I'll make you a deal ... you show me yours and I'll show you mine. Hmmm?

Oh yeah, besides your 'score', remember to tell me what your answer was to the very first question as to how optimistic your overall view of life was. And whether you you thought more fake smiles were genuine or more genuine smiles were fake.

I'm conducting my own experiment, I am...



So Much To Blog ... So Little Time

The title says it all.
About how I'm feeling at the moment.

Let's see, where to begin?
I went to a movie tonight.
Lions for Lambs. Veddy, veddy interesting.
Must. Blog. That.

As pointed out by Gerri at Not A Lawyer, there seems to be a rash of incidents involving the police and taser use. A lot in Canada lately too. And a few lawsuits coming out of it, including one rather local to me.
Must. Blog. That.

Were you aware that Canadians are threatening the very survival of the very earth? It has to do with all the beer we drink, you see. And those #$@%!! refrigerators we keep it in. It could just be the end of civilization, I tell ya.
Must. Blog. That.

What about those wild Canuck kids? Hockey brawls are always good clean fun, right? But 8 years old??
Must. Blog. That.

And then there's more interesting stuff from Iraq. Again.
Umm, I mean still....
Must. Blog. That.

Which reminds me and ties back into the movie above ...
I went to the show with a friend and one of the first things she whispered to me when the movie started was something to the effect of "I didn't think that the US was still in Afghanistan". Which is a pretty telling comment by itself. Almost worthy of its own blog post.

Then again ... Nah, a person really does need to know when to quit. Besides, did I mention that they actually expect me to work too? As in for a living? Like to pay the bills? Me? Really?? I mean, I have two blogs for goodness sake...

What's wrong with these people? I dunno.
Personally, I think those are the people we should really go after.

And this is starting to look like a Blogging To Do List. Like I don't have enough of those in my life. Oh well, maybe I will just sleep on it.

Nah, I guess I better get to work. On something.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Very Sad News

There will be no Nativity Scene in Ottawa, Canada this year.

The Supreme Court has ruled that there cannot be a Nativity Scene in Canada's capital this Christmas season. This isn't for any religious reason. They simply have not been able to find Three Wise Men in the Nation's Capital.

P.S. There was no problem, however, finding enough asses to fill the stable.

H/T to Tera

Interview with God

You really need to take the time check this out.
Trust me.

Its quite beautiful.
And has more than a few truisms in it.

I really wish I could put the video right here but I can't.
So here you go.
http://www.theinterviewwithgod.com/

H/T to Tera

Parenting the Parent

They call us the 'sandwich generation', don't they?

You know, a little bit squashed. Trying to raise our children. While taking care of our aging parents. And work to make a living. Add in everything else that goes along with. Little wonder there are many days when I feel like toast.

Apparently, we've been studied. Poked and prodded. And some have gotten quite creative with their definitions:

Traditional: those sandwiched between aging parents who need care and/or help and their own children.

Club Sandwich: those in their 50s or 60s, sandwiched between aging parents, adult children and grandchildren. OR those in their 30s and 40s, with young children, aging parents and grandparents.(Term coined by Carol Abaya)

Open Faced: anyone else involved in elder care. (Term coined by Carol Abaya)

So. Mom came back from her trip over the weekend. She had spent three weeks out west at my brother's. I picked her up at the airport, having decided that we would get a hotel and spend the night in the city since we both had doctor's appointments there the following day.

Tell me, how much can a person actually 'age' in just three weeks?

I don't know but this person deposited with me by the flight attendant was not the mother I knew. Something's been up with mom, not quite right, for the past year or so. I suppose its longer than that actually. She had always looked very young for her age and been very independent. Then she fell and broke her wrist a few years ago. Shortly after that she ended up in the hospital with other health issues.

And overnight, she changed. In her physical appearance. Her voice. Her physical abilities. Almost out of nowhere. It was scary. It still is. Even though mom is only in her 70s, she had always been very young for her age. Now she seems very old for her age. We had a geriatic assessment done shortly before she went away and they said that it was an early form of dementia. They will do neuropsych testing next week and they should be able to tell us more then.

Anyway, I picked her up at the airport. Even though she gets wheelchair assistance when traveling, we've never had to even consider using a wheelchair to get from the luggage area to the car. I guess maybe I should have this time. She fell. Twice. Outside. In the parking lot. At night. Did I mention that I was by myself with her? And that it was dark?

Yeah, it was a little disconcerting. Especially since there was no way that I was going to be able to pick up that dead weight myself. Thank God for Good Samaritans. I saw a man walking and called for him, asking if he could get us some help. He came over and helped mom up. I guess I should say, picked mom up. We got her across the roadway and she went down again. So he picked her up again and we got her sitting on one of the concrete abuttments. He suggested that I get the car and bring it to them.

But I was a little hesitant to leave mom with this stranger. No matter how helpful he had been. Before I could really contemplate this dilemna, an older couple appeared out of nowhere wanting to help. So I left mom with the three of them and got the car. Eventually we got her strapped in and said our thank yous.

You know those emails that like to circulate about guardian angels and some people being angels on earth? It sure felt that way that night. First the young fellow, then the older couple who appeared literally out of nowhere.

We continued on our way. Got a hotel. Made our appointments the next day and eventually got back home again. But it wasn't just Mom falling ... 'just', as if that wasn't bad enough. She was a lot more confused than 'usual'. And really not herself. I am hoping that it was just the traveling that threw her off so bad. And then being back home again, things will eventually get back to normal ... or what passes for normal around here.

Because if not ... I'm not sure what we will do. I certainly don't see how I can take Mom out alone if she is going to keep falling. Nor do I see how it could be safe for her to stay in her own little house if she stayed so confused. But they say traveling and airports and such can be very aggravating for someone in mom's condition. So I guess we will wait and see what happens.

In the meantime, we soldier on. Or, we will anyway, after a nap. For me, that is. Not her. But I was just wondering ... Are we having fun yet? And if I had a crystal ball, would I really want one?

Monday, November 26, 2007

Feeling Better Now?

Remember the Stella Awards?
That wonderful email that circulates and circulates ... chronicling the mind-numbing stupidy of the American legal system?

Cone on, you must remember this one:

"This year's runaway First Place Stella Award winner was Mrs. Merv Grazinski, of Oklahoma City, who purchased a new 32-foot Winnebago motor home. On her first trip home, from an OU football game, having driven on to the freeway, she set the cruise control at 70 mph and calmly left the driver's seat to go to the back of the Winnebago to make herself a sandwich.

"Not surprisingly, the motor home left the freeway, crashed and overturned. Also not surprisingly, Mrs. Grazinski sued Winnebago for not putting in the owner's manual that she couldn't actually leave the driver's seat while the cruise control was set.

"The Oklahoma jury awarded her – are you sitting down? – $1,750,000 plus a new motor home. Winnebago actually changed their manuals as a result of this suit, just in case Mrs. Grazinski has any relatives who might also buy a motor home."

Well, take heart. Apparently its not all that bad.

The Stella Awards have been debunked.
Numerous times apparently.

To its credit, the Austin American-Statesman debunked the story of Ms. Robertson and her toddler several years ago, when the "Stella Awards" started making the rounds. Los Angeles Times reporter Myron Levin went one better. He called Winnebago.

"Wide acceptance of the myths has been an eye-opener for Sheila Davis, public relations manager for Winnebago Industries in Forest City, Iowa," he wrote. "Davis says she has repeatedly had to explain that no, there was no Grazinski lawsuit, and, no, the company did not have to change the owner's manual to avoid a swarm of copycat claims."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

Even ones such as the notorious McDonald's scalding coffee suit are not nearly so silly as they become in manufactured legends. The Albuquerque jury did award Stella Liebeck, 79, (after whom the "Stellas" are named) almost $3 million after she spilled coffee on her lap, causing third-degree burns, a week's hospitalization and skin grafts.

But the jury had learned that McDonald's served its coffee much hotter than other restaurants, that it had received more than 700 previous complaints and had paid more than $500,000 in earlier settlements.

Liebeck originally asked for just $20,000 to cover her medical bills and other expenses, and that McDonald's serve its coffee at a more moderate temperature. McDonald's offered her $800.

Shortly before trial, a mediator recommended McDonald's pay $225,000. The company said no.

Jurors awarded $160,000 in damages and $2.7 million in punitives, hoping to change the company's behavior. The judge lowered the punitives to $480,000, and the case settled for an undisclosed amount, presumably less.

So, I guess the real question is ... How gullible are people? Really.
After all, http://www.snopes.com/ is always just a click away.

Or as my mother likes to say "Don't believe anything you hear and only half of what you see".

H/T to Bob Kraft's P.I.S.S.D.

The End of the Line

What does it mean to come to the end of the line?
It can be a good or a bad thing, I suppose, depending on the context. But the words themselves tend to evoke a feeling of melancholy, even loneliness, for me.

But not this time. This time it feels more like ... fear. And excitement. With a little giddiness thrown in. But definitely, most strongly, fear.

So what has me so confussed and perpluxed, you ask?
Sorry, for now you will just have to wait. Because, quite simply, I wouldn't want to take a chance on jinxing it.

For now, we will just have to say that it could be close. To the end of the line. Of one small, but far from insignificant, portion of our lives. Most likely not one of the bigger portions, the ones I have really been praying, wishing and hoping for for an awful long time. But its a step. Hopefully in the right direction.

So for now, please just wish us luck. Pray for us. Send us good vibes. Whatever works for you. And we will gratefully accept it. And if when we get there, to the end of that particular line, I will let you know.

Its not very far away. Not very far at all. In fact, I have those moments when I think its way too close. Because really, its only one more week.

And that is the scariest part of all.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Oh Christmas Tree, Oh Christmas Tree ...


Well, it took me all weekend. But I finally got my tree up.

Click for a better view.

#%$@&*@%$

Those who atttempt to put up Christmas lights

In the Great White UP

Near the end of November

Are certifiably INSANE!!

Because trying to get from this

To something approximating this















Might just be the death of ya!
Then again, to get there ... I would need to build a new house too.

More later. Maybe.
When my fingers thaw out...

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Your Tax Dollars at Work

Just because its Saturday. And its silly.

Welcome to the Ministry of Silly Walks.



Do you have one in your neighbourhood?

Borrowed from Business Lawyer Blog

Friday, November 23, 2007

And God Said ...

'I Think They've Lost What's Left of Their Minds.'

Had Toni Vernelli gone ahead with her pregnancy ten years ago, she would know at first hand what it is like to cradle her own baby, to have a pair of innocent eyes gazing up at her with unconditional love, to feel a little hand slipping into hers - and a voice calling her Mummy.

But the very thought makes her shudder with horror.

Because when Toni terminated her pregnancy, she did so in the firm belief she was helping to save the planet.

Incredibly, so determined was she that the terrible "mistake" of pregnancy should never happen again, that she begged the doctor who performed the abortion to sterilise her at the same time.

He refused, but Toni - who works for an environmental charity - "relentlessly hunted down a doctor who would perform the irreversible surgery.

Yep, you read that right.

She had an abortion to save the planet. Then she had herself sterilized. Again, to save the planet. Must be due to all that inherent 'evil' to be found in babies, I suppose.

And as much as I'm tempted to quip that one good thing came out of it ... at least if she doesn't reproduce we shouldn't have to concern ourselves with many more of her ilk, I'm afraid it doesn't quite work that way.

The article also introduces us to Sara, another woman of many questionable talents.

Most young girls dream of marriage and babies. But Sarah dreamed of helping the environment - and as she agonised over the perils of climate change, the loss of animal species and destruction of wilderness, she came to the extraordinary decision never to have a child.

"I realised then that a baby would pollute the planet - and that never having a child was the most environmentally friendly thing I could do."

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I'd never dream of preaching to others about having a family. It's a very personal choice. What I do like to do is make people aware of the facts.

Sure, its a personal decision. And frankly, ususally I couldn't care less whether she chose to have a child or not. Except for her warped reasoning.
"When I see a mother with a large family, I don't resent her, but I do hope she's thought through the implications."
I sure hope they've thought through the implications, too. I'm just wondering who's going to take over the stewardship of this beautiful planet when we're all dead and gone. And have exercised our God-given right not to reproduce. So as to save the earth.

I also can't help but think that perhaps a little less environmental concern and a little more respect for morality would go a long way. And when I speak of morality, I'm not even going near the getting pregnant in the first place part. So far the score looks like

Earth 1
Humanity 0

Maybe we don't deserve to be here after all...

H/T to Neptunus Lex

Fly Me Some of That Red Bull

Although I think it might be trying to violate one of those 'you can't break the low altitude record, you can only tie it' rules or something ....

This is rather cool.




Gawd, how I would LOVE to do that!!

Plucked from a link in the comment section at Lex's with a H/T to TimB52

Last Night

On The Jay Leno Show.
They had the Armed Forces as their special audience guests.

And Howie Mandel.
Playing Deal or No Deal with them.

It was pretty funny.
And cool.

Which reminds me, by the way...
How many here know the five branches of the Armed Forces?

Apparently, according to one American lady... *

The Navy

The Marines

The Air Force

The Army

... and ....

... wait for it ...


The FBI!!




* From a Jay Walking segment

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Woo Hoo ... Its Fezziwigs Time

Who says blogging isn't a value added activity?

Just sitting here, doing my thing. A little bit of blogging, a little bit of reading my favourite blogs. Thinking I really should get off my keister and do something a little more ... you know ... useful....

When what to my wondering ears should I hear
But the sounds of Magic 94.9
Oh so casually mentioning the latest Fezziwigs production,
A Tempest in a Teapot.

Smart cookie that I am,
I immediately leapt to my feet
Dashed to the phone...
And dialed all but the last digit of the number I know by heart.

Holding my breath
Waiting for the gent to admit
That he held the tickets
My heart so desired.

Turns out he did
A Family Pack in fact ... of four tickets and two books
Alas, in my excitement I didn't catch their titles.

But that's okay
First caller through?
No problem
I was already there....

So ... guess where we're off to this weekend?
Now, that's the way to start the Christmas season. Trust me.

With sincere apologies to by Clement Clarke Moore

Shhh...

I assume most of my many readers, being as discerning and intelligent as they are, realize that email is not private. But it may be even less private than you think.

Is anyone familiar with a service called Hushmail? They bill themselves as offering private, secure, free e-mail accounts.

Hush uses industry standard algorithms as specified by the Open PGP standard (RFC 2440) to ensure the security, privacy and authenticity of your email. With Hushmail, users need only create and remember their own passphrases, and the secure Hushmail server does the rest. Encryption and decryption are transparent to the user, making Hushmail the most user-friendly secure mail solution available. Through the Hush Encryption Engine™, the Hush key servers take care of public/Private key exchange in a completely seamless fashion. When a user wishes to encrypt/decrypt data or verify/sign a signature, a connection is automatically made to a Hush Key Server to retrieve the necessary Public/Private Key. It's that simple! Only Hush's solution provides such a high level of security combined with total ease of use. The descriptions below will give you an overview of how the Hush system secures email.
But maybe not so much.
A court document in a drug smuggling case has shown that the private email service Hushmail has been cooperating with police in handing over user emails. Hushmail claims to offer unreadable email as it uses PGP encryption technology and a company specific key management system that it says will ensure only the sender and recipient can read the emails. However it seems the Canadian company has been divulging keys to the American authorities.
Do you remember that sage advice about being careful as to what you say? Something about eating your words or something like that...
The news will be embarrassing to the company, which has made much of its ability to ensure that emails are not read by the authorise, including the FBI's Carnivore email monitoring software."Hushmail's security cannot be broken or weakened by this government sponsored snooping software," the company states.
Uh huh. A morale for the company (what do you think the chances are that they will be sued ... or of them being able to rely on the protection afforded by US legislation?) and to all those who traverse the internet.

Shhh ... if you don't want anyone to 'hear' you, it might just be better to not to 'say' it all.


H/T to Business Lawyer Blog

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

What I Am Thankful For ...

Yeah, yeah, I know.
We already had our Thanksgiving.

But hearing everyone in the blogosphere go on about it, got me thinking. And really, we probably don't stop to appreciate and express our gratitude enough. So who needs a special day of the year, I say...
  • For my daughter being over two years seizure free … which is a miracle in and of itself and the biggest single thing I am thankful for ... shhh, let's not jinx it
  • For her amazing neorologist, a truly caring and compassionate man who has helped me keep the remaining shreds of my sanity many, many times over the years
  • For friends who push me in the right direction to do the right things
  • For the opportunity and ability to do the type of work I love while being able to help other people at the same time
  • For our soldiers in Afghanistan and what they do day after day
  • For the opportunity to discover blogging ... who knew?
  • For Lex and his blog, for the pleasure and insight his writing gives me and for his community of readers, where I have come to feel an amazing level of acceptance and friendship
  • For Lex continuing with his blog … that was scary… let's not go there again

Cherish Every Moment

Although this was written for, by and about our friends south of the border, there's no doubt that its equally applicable to all us. That we all need to stop, take a deep breath and remind ourselves about what is really important in our lives. Our families, our friends, our health. Just how blessed we really are. In other words, there are times when we all need to Take Five.

Its easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of life. Its easy to take advantage of what is good. Often losing our tempers especially during this stressful time of the season. Grocery shopping, making out a Christmas list, spending too much money.

But just take a moment. Take a moment to peek into the lives of the Johnson family and their devastation. How can we not, cherish each and every moment of our lives? The lives of our children, our husbands and wives?

Army Spc. John Austin Johnson of El Paso, Texas, is recovering from massive head wounds sustained in an IED attack. Johnson is a member of Fort Bliss’ 4-1 Cavalry. He had survived five previous bombing incidents. That is not all.

Earlier this month, Johnson and his wife, Mona Lisa, buried their 9-year-old son, Tyler Anthony Johnson. The little boy had been on life support for several weeks after sustaining critical injuries in a horrible car accident. He was on his way with his family to see his dad in recuperation at Brooke Army Medical Center in San Antonio. He never made it. The family car rolled over several times after being hit by powerful blasts of wind. Tyler was laid to rest at Pinecrest Memorial Park in Benton, Ark. That is not all.

The Johnsons had two other children. Ashley Mishelle as 5 years old. Logan Wesley was 2. They were killed instantly in the same car crash that claimed their older brother’s life. During the funeral service, the Benton Courier reported, the program included Ashley Mishelle’s favorite song — Ashley Simpson’s “Pieces of Me” — and Sarah McLachlan’s haunting “In the Arms of an Angel.” White doves were donated by a retired military officer.

To lose one child is devastating enough. To lose three? While recovering from traumatic war injuries? And to bury three little angels just weeks before Thanksgiving? No parent can read of suffering like that of the Johnsons and indulge the petty, selfish complaints of holiday gripers and road-ragers. The complainers featured on the nightly news this week wallowing in self-pity over a few hours’ delay on the road or in the air need to get a grip, get over themselves and get some perspective.

If you can just take a moment to be thankful for what you've got. Hold dear your children, your husbands and wives. For those who continue to give.

C.S. Lewis wrote famously that “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pain; it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” Thankfully, countless citizens were roused by the Johnsons’ plight — and demonstrated that the American giving spirit lasts 365 days a year.

More than 200 Patriot Guard Riders, the volunteer band of motorcycle enthusiasts who provide protection during military funerals, served as Tyler’s pallbearers...... That is not all.

Soldiers’ Angels provided hotel stays as needed for the Johnsons’ extended family in Dallas...... That is not all.

The Fisher House Foundation’s Hero Miles program provided travel for Johnson to get to his injured wife. American Airlines picked up the tab for the Johnsons to travel to their children’s funerals. The Professional Golfers Association raised $95,000 for a new car and other expenses. Operation Homefront will use leftover funds to build a permanent memorial playground in the children’s honor at Fort Bliss.

Before Thanksgiving brings out the worst in you, stop before you gripe. Give thanks for noisy houses, healthy children and overflowing company. Give thanks for bounteous tables, rambunctious friends and neighbors, life and limb. And give thanks for those who give of themselves — in service to our nation, in civic duty and in answer to His call — all year ’round. That is all.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving.

Reprinted from Take Five

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Very Good Advice

Some very good advice from L'Eagle Eye for anyone going through a divorce...

1) Don't continue to live with your spouse if you're in the midst of a divorce;

2) If in the midst of a divorce, don't allow your spouse to handcuff you and put a noose around your neck.

A Word to the Wise ---
Divorce +Handcuffs + Rope Tied In a Noose
= Bad


Perhaps There Is Hope

Maybe, just maybe if enough people pay attention, we can put an end to...

Death by PowerPoint



From: thecroaker, 3 months ago



Way Not To Go...

This one doesn't leave me with such a proud feeling. Actually its much more of an unsettled feeling.

The pretty little university town of Wolfville, Nova Scotia, has become the first town in Canada to pass a bylaw making it illegal for people to smoke in vehicles in town if there’s anyone 18 or younger inside.

Wolfville's mayor:

"I am very, very pleased. Once again I am happy that Wolfville has been able to be a leader on a matter that is one of wellness and the council, I think, has once again reflected the conscience of the community while dealing with an issue on behalf of an element of the population, that is, children, that don’t always or often have the right to change the environment in which they might find themselves."

Some people are pleased, anyway. They're the ones who see any with doubts as "naysayers", whose only concern is their infringement of their personal space and a restriction on their personal rights.

But to me, its not the same thing as laws around smoke-free workplaces and government bans against smoking in public buildings. We have had a lot of that in this province recently and those are actually okay with me. I don't smoke and although we never use to have any problem with friends smoking in our home, since having children that has become a different story. Step outside, please.

But its one thing to have rules in government buildings, even in 'public places', its another to take that very intrusive step into a person's private vehicle. If you can go into their vehicle, what's to stop you from going into their home?

I mean, really, if a municipal government by-law can reach that far ... then why not?

I have watched with interest as more and more custody decisions order the parents not to smoke when the child is in their care. Read with great discomfort a few authorities cited by judges which liken smoking to 'child abuse'. Hell, not too many are going to argue that smoking around kids (or anyone else for that matter) is 'good for them'. You don't have to convince me as to the dangers of second-hand smoke. Nobody smokes around my kids. And I seriously wonder about parents and caregivers who do smoke around kids.

But neither do I think that the government (at any level) should be able to intrude this far into people's personal lives ... or should I say 'personal spaces'. Unless the act of smoking itself is to be prohibitted under the criminal law, the furthest I can justify is awarding custody to a non-smoking parent if the other refuses to stop smoking in the presence of an asthmatic child. Beyond that ...

As an aside, this past April, Wolfville became the first fair trade town in the country, meaning it promotes and follows the practice of fair trade. The movement is all about giving a fair price to farmers or other producers for their goods, instead of the minimal return they get from large corporations. That, on the other hand, is something I'm proud of.


Cross-posted at The Flight Deck


Thought of the Day ... On Politicians

Monday, November 19, 2007

America is not at war

Followed a link from a post at Take Five, and came across this picture at Mitch Lewis.



It says a lot, doesn't it?

Calling All Bloggers

Calling All Bloggers .... Calling All Bloggers...

Ever wonder how far you can go? What you can really 'get away' with saying behind the 'anonymity' of your blog?

Courtesy of Sui Generis - A New York Law Blog, apparently a fair bit, at least if you take pains to ensure that your identity remains annonymous. A New York state school board member unsuccessfully went to court seeking to force Google (Blooger) to provide her with the identity of an annonymous blogger who allegedly defamed her. She needed to know who the blogger actually was so that she could sue him or her, you see.
The Court held that the statement made by the anonymous blogger was an opinion and thus protected speech, and even if it had not been protected speech, anonymous bloggers are entitled to certain procedural safeguards prior to disclosure of their identities.
The court followed law requiring anonymous bloggers to be given notice of any application for discovery of their identities and an opportunity to be heard in opposition. In addition, the school board member was required to specify the particular statements that she alleged to be defamatory. Apparently, under New York law at least, disclosure of the speaker's identity will only be ordered if the plaintiff shows evidence of the merits of her proposed defamation cause of action. And, in this case, the court quite easily found that the statements on which she sought to base her defamation claim were "plainly inactionable as a matter of law".

The blogger in question had allegedly indicated that the school board member had "no interest in helping the private school community". Also complained of was the statement of an anonymous commenter that she was a "bigot and really should not be on the board" . Both statements were found to constitued "protected opinion".

So maybe there is something to for that paper-thin veil of blognomity, after all.... Who knew?

The full decision can be read here, for any so inclined.



Sunday, November 18, 2007

Told You So ...

I really hate to say I told you so. Honest, I do.
But sometimes you just have to. Because its true. And now I have proof.

I know its true because Blackfive said so.

Supporting the troops who really do keep bad guys from hurting your worthless behinds and pay blood price so you can freely show your ignorance and shortcomings to the world (and basic lack of commitment to free speech) does NOT equal supporting the war. They are, in fact, two separate things and only a mind operating in non-Euclidean space rather than reality could possibly find an intersection between the two. Since it is obvious that you failed basic logic (and probably most science courses as well I bet), they are exclusive of one another.
Okay, sure, they were talking about that incredibly stupid power play involved in the Election Committee's decision to order the Boy Scouts to remove their care boxes soliciting donations to support the troops. Because, you know. It was a political message. During an election. Can't have that.

Still, its not like you're going to argue with Balckfive, right?

And before anybody crawls in or swoops down and goes *there*, you can find my own personal viewpoint here.

Its Not Just Any Chair ... Its 'The Chair'

It's not the man (or woman) that makes the office, its The Chair, dontchya know....




Don't shoot, hang, drown or ship out all the lawyers .
Laugh with them
!

Bball Anybody?

My youngest is back in basketball this year.

She had played for two years in a junior mini league with her older sister and then somehow we missed the registration last year. This year, we decided to just put her in. Her sister just has too many other activities.

They had their first game tonight. There was only one slight problem. The other team didn't show up. Apparently, no one had bothered to tell them about it. The game was on the co-ordinator's schedule, on the referee's schedule, on our team's schedule ... but not on the other team's schedule. Only in Canada, you say ...

So they had a game anyway. Split the team in half and played five on five. It worked out really well. For their very first game of the year, they got a practice game. But with a real ref enforcing the real rules. And no matter which 'side' won, I figured the team was guaranteed a win.

Kit Kat (I told her that she needed a blog name so she helped pick her own) hasn't played for a few years but she definitely has height on her side. Now all she needs is some more confidence. And to be reminded of the rules. She definitely got the latter tonight. And a good start on the former. Which was helped by getting a couple of baskets.

All in all, it was a good game. I think its going to be a good team. And even though the score was something like 34 - 22 for the other 'side', I'm calling it a win. A mom can do things like that.

And what do you do with your first win? Why go out for ice cream afterwards, of course. Even if it is the middle of November. In the Great White Up.

Brrrr.... I'm still shivering.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

This Evening's Entertainment ...

This evening's entertainment can be found at Neptunus Lex.

Featuring the ever-popular topic of
... wait for it ....

Health Care Insurance



Now That's Sexy!

Update: And now for your reading pleasure, the ever-venerable Snake Eater sums up the always-enteraining health care insurance thread at Lex's (which summation is even more entertaining than said thread), as follows:

My thoughts on this extraordinary thread: Just back from the weekend (this AM)and lo and behold… a tongue in cheek post from Lex that morphs into a seemingly millenial long thread ( a/k/a - a migrane inducing pissing contest) concerning the merits and/or demerits of various health care systems/insurance(s)…uggh!!!

the doctrine of unintended consequenses couples with that old saw ….no good deed goes unpunished …( I hope Lex puts this experience in his lessions learned file)that said … and snark notwithstanding, I read every comment and managed to stay awake… no terminal ennui this time. Some very pointed comments and internet fisticuffs seemed likely…but the Rt. Hon. Rev. Lex, demonstrating his seldom called upon pastoral skills, stepped in ( see comment # 43 above) and partially defused the situation..that and the threat of an internet hug from FbL did it … cloyingly painfull Kumbuya moments followed …almost everybody kissed and made up… play dates and sleepovers were arranged and all eventually came to Jesus…

Seriously (really)…snarky grab-ass aside it was a truly amazing and revealing thread by a not surprizingly good bunch of guys …ok…ok… Lex Lugs and Lex Babes ( they know who they are) and reaffirms my decision to continue hanging around here …thanks again. Best
PS, I am pleased to announce that the supremely prestigous PedanticPeckerwood Award, for the first time since the beginning of the world , is being awarded jointly to Maj Mike and filterman…congradulations to both receipents.

Friday, November 16, 2007

Epilepsy Awareness

Apparently November is Epilepsy Awareness Month in the United States. Its March in Canada.

But the fact that, even though I am more familiar with and more likely to remember the American one, I still didn't realize it was this month until today? Probably not such a good sign. Because the whole subject is fairly personal in this house.

But does it really matter so much?
Well, lets see. There are nearly 2.5 million Americans with epilepsy. And more than 300,000 Canadians. Each day, an average of 42 Canadians learns that they have epilepsy and about 60% of new patients are young children and senior citizens.

Did you know that epilepsy is the second most common chronic neurological disorder affecting humankind, after chronic headache? Neither did I. Which you would think I would.

For many with epilepsy, the biggest problem they face, besides seizures, is society's negative attitudes about the condition.


The biggest handicap for persons with epilepsy is social stigma, because misunderstanding and prejudice are prevalent”, explains Dr. Elaine Wirrell, a pediatric neurologist at Alberta Children’s Hospital in Calgary. The conclusions of her recent study shows that adolescents perceive epilepsy as having greater physical and social impact than most other chronic diseases, such as asthma, diabetes, Down’s syndrome, arthritis, migraine, leukemia and HIV infection. 149 teens from 13 to 18 year old, with and without chronic diseases, were interviewed. Epilepsy was perceived to have more adverse physical impact than all chronic llnesses except Down’s syndrome. Epilepsy was also perceived to have more negative social impact particularly on behaviour, honesty, popularity, ability at sports and fun. Overall, epilepsy was perceived to have a similar social impact to HIV infection and leukemia, but a significantly greater social impact than asthma, diabetes, arthritis and migraine.
New cases of epilepsy are most common among children, especially during the first year of life. Another peak of new cases occurs in the elderly. And although treatment for many is a single medication, up to 30% of all epilepsy cases cannot be controlled with AE medications.

So what's available for those individuals?
Surgery, the Vagus Nerve Stimulator (much like a pacemaker for the brain) and the Ketogenic Diet (an extremely high fat, low carb diet which causes the body to switch its metabolism and burn fat for fuel instead of glucose) to name a few. Its much like Russian Roulette really though ... if the first drug fails, the chances of a second working are significantly lessened.

Beyond that? Yeah, Russian Roulette.
Although some treatment options have a better track record than others.

Ever wonder what its like to be a person with epilepsy or a family member? There's lots to read out there, take your pick.

How can you help? Well. there are always the usual ways. And while that's very much appreicated, there are other ways too. Like learning seizure first aid. And helping to raise awareness, which can be done in many different ways.

But maybe, just maybe, one of the most important ways is by showing some compassion and understanding
  • the next time you see someone in public having a seizure
  • the next time a potential employee discloses that they have epilepsy
  • the next time your child comes home and tells you that there's a new little girl in his class but she acts kind of 'funny' and 'scary'. Educate yourself. And educate your child. Please.

The possibilities are endless. You can find out more at Epilepsy Canada, Epilepsy Matters and at the Epilepsy Foundation of America. Or you can contact the local Epilepsy Association in your area.

Oh yeah, one more thing.

THANKS !!

    Thursday, November 15, 2007

    What Will They Think Of Next?

    A 'What Type of Mom Are You?' Test, apparently.

    And it would appear that I am the Introverted, Sensing, Feeling, Judging type ... aka The “Tender Loving Care” Mother.

    Uh huh, I am sure there are many, many days my kids would strongly disagree with that one.

    Gentle and kind, the ISFJ mother provides her children with generous amounts of tenderness, affection, and the comfort of daily routine. Her aim is to “be there” for her children, physically and emotionally. She is sensitive to their feelings, offering closeness, understanding, and quiet support.

    Loyal and devoted, the ISFJ mother has a strong sense of duty and consistently puts her children’s needs first. She delights in taking care of the little things that matter to a child, making each one feel loved and special.

    To provide her family with security and warmth, the ISFJ mother tends to the practical and domestic, aiming for a smooth-running household and an attractive home. She also observes and conveys the value and importance of family traditions.


    “I want my children to feel they have an ally, someone who knows them completely. I want to be a haven for them.”

    Which, maybe yes, maybe no.
    I've taken much more in-depth (pages and pages of quetsions) online personality tests in the past which were based on the same introvert/extravert, sensing/intuitive, thinking/feeling, judging/perceiving system. And found that although the introverted and judging parts remain fairly constant, the sensing and feeling could just as easily be intruitive and thinking (or some combination thereof) on any given day or even hour.

    In fact, any questions that deal with that thinking/feeling dichotomy, in particular, I tend to struggle with answering big time. I'm this very odd creature, you see. Very logical. And equally, if not more, emotional.

    Which might explain why I very easily (and much too often for my own liking) can be having a very intelligent, logical conversation and suddenly have tears in my eyes. Almost out of nowhere. All that has to happen, is the right topic to come up. Or even the right thought enter my mind. But in the same conversation, the tears can just as quickly stop. And start again. It drives me crazy because I can't seem to control it.

    Fortunately, those that know me well know that I can usually carry on a relatively intelligent conversation even while crying. They're the ones that either hand me the kleenex (which I quickly brush aside) and keep talking or just ignore the tears completely and carry on. Which I appreciate. Its not that the feelings aren't real (they are and they're very deep), its just that I seem to be wired a little ... shall we say, oddly.

    By the way, you can find a list of all of the different 'mothering types' here.

    So what type of parent are you?


    H/T to Adventures of Law School Mama for the link

    Maxine on Minorities

    We Need To Show More Sympathy For These People . . .

    * They travel miles in the heat.

    * They risk their lives crossing a border.

    * They don't get paid enough wages.

    * They do jobs that others won't do or are afraid to do.

    * They live in crowded conditions among a people who speak a different language.

    * They rarely see their families, and they face adversity all day every day.

    I'm not talking about illegal Mexicans;

    I'm talking about our troops!

    H/T to doorkeeper


    Let Me Get This Straight

    Yeah, yeah, I know.
    I'm back to helping them Americans again. *gasp*

    But, in my defence, I do so love 'good causes'. Just got to find me some Canadian ones, I guess. And it might be something that some of my American friends might be interested in.
    So there!

    Anyway, while I'm searching out good Canadian causes, what do you think of this?
    Boy Scout boxes soliciting care package donations for deployed soldiers in a Cambridge, MA polling stations were removed because a poll worker complained that they were implicitly “pro-war.”

    Boy scout collection boxes? Give me a break...

    As Lex points out, the Scouts had twice sought (and received) permission from the Election Committee to conduct the drive, made 25,000 flyers (incurring an expense of $1500 dollars) and sought the support of their extensive social networks. Only to have it blow up in their faces on election day.

    But here is the really cute part.

    Weinerman [executive director of the city’s Election Commission] cited a law that prohibits political messages near any polling station in an election. But state law prohibits political messages pertaining to a particular election within 150 feet of any polling station, according to a spokesperson for Secretary of State William Galvin’s office. There is no law stopping someone from promoting an unrelated political message within 150 feet of any polling place.

    From reading this it sure doesn't sound like any violation of state law to me, even inside the 150 foot radius. Despite what the 'lady' has to say.


    While most of the boxes were set up in the lobbies or front entrances of the polling stations, some were placed in the same room as voting booths, according to election workers. Weinerman said the scouts were never given permission to set up the boxes inside the 150-foot boundary.
    Kind of makes you wonder what else might be at play, doesn't it?

    Any any rate, I liked Lex's idea.
    Of writing a message of support to the Boy Scouts:
    Boy Scouts
    Troop 45PO
    Box 38-1241
    Cambridge, MA 02238

    Hopefully a message of support to the Boy Scouts won't violate any, you know, laws... Cuz I would hate to see something like that happen.

    Update: Courtesy of Dave H at in the comments at Neptunus Lex

    Marsha Weinerman:Executive Director
    Office Hours:
    Cambridge Election Commission
    51 Inman Street
    First Floor
    Cambridge,MA 02139
    Phone: (617) 349-4361
    Fax: (617) 349-4366
    Monday:8:30 a.m. - 8 p.m.
    Tuesday to Thursday:8:30 a.m. - 5 p.m.
    Friday:8:30 a.m.-Noon

    Email to:
    Elections2@Cambridgema.gov

    Wednesday, November 14, 2007

    The IRS (or CRA*) Audit

    At the end of the tax year, the IRS/CRA* Tax Office sent an inspector to audit the books of a synagogue.

    While he was checking the books he turned to the Rabbi and said: "I notice you buy a lot of candles. What do you do with the candle drippings?"

    "Good question." noted the Rabbi. "We save them up and send them back to the candle makers, and every now and then they send us a free box of candles."

    "Oh!" replied the auditor, somewhat disappointed that his unusual question had a practical answer. But on he went, in his obnoxious way: "What about all these biscuit purchases? What do you do with the crumbs?"

    "Ah, yes."' replied the Rabbi, realizing that the inspector was trying to trap him with an unanswerable question. "We collect them and send them back to the manufacturer, and every now and then they send a free box of Holy Biscuits."

    "I see." replied the auditor, thinking hard about how he could fluster theKnow-it-all Rabbi. "Well, Rabbi," he went on, "what do you do with all the leftover foreskins from the circumcisions you perform?"

    "We do not waste them either." answered the Rabbi. "We save them all and send them to the IRS/CRA Office, and about once a year they send us a complete prick!"

    * For you Yanks, CRA = Canada Revenue Agency

    And The Saga Continues...

    Hairdresser sued for refusing to hire Muslim woman in a headscarf

    Is anyone else getting tired of seeing these kinds of headlines yet? I am. Or at least I thought I was.

    When I first read the headline, I thought "Oh yeah, here we go again..."

    The owner of a hair salon is being sued for religious discrimination for refusing to hire a Muslim woman who wears a headscarf.

    Sarah Desrosiers, 32, says she turned down Bushra Noah as a junior stylist to maintain the image of her salon, which specialises in "urban, funky" cuts.

    She told Miss Noah, 19, she needed her staff to display their hairstyles to the public. But the devout Muslim insisted that wearing her headscarf was essential to her beliefs.

    Miss Noah, who has been rejected for 25 different hairdressing jobs after interviews, is suing Miss Desrosiers for more than £15,000 for injury to her feelings plus an unspecified sum for lost earnings.

    But then I read the above and thought about it a little more.

    I have always looked at these sort of things this way. Quite simply, my rights end where your rights start. Meaning that, yes, I am entitled to my freedom of religion (for example), just as you are. And I am entitled (at least in this country) to practice my religion. But my freedoms end where they unreasonably impact or infringe upon yours….or the legitimate requirements of the job.

    In human rights jargon, we talk about Bona Fide Occupational Requirements (BFOR). Meaning that its not discrimination if its a for real honest-to-goodness necessary, legitimate requirement of the job. So, for example, if you apply for employment at a carnival that's only open on Saturdays and your religion doesn't allow you to work on Saturdays, not only is it fairly obvious that you are in the wrong place but the law will tell you that its a BFOR of this particular job that you work on Saturdays. (Okay, maybe not the best example, but you get the point.)

    We saw an interesting case around this last year. Does anybody remember this one?

    Teaching assistant Aishah Azmi was dismissed from a Church of England primary school in Dewsbury, West Yorkshire, after refusing to remove her niqab in lessons led by a male teacher. Mrs Azmi, said it was her Islamic duty to wear the veil in the presence of adult males who were not blood relatives.
    We had a good discussion about it last year at Lex's. In the comments section there, I said the following:
    But I was thinking, it seems fairly obvious that being able to see the speaker’s mouth movements would be helpful to someone trying to learn a new language. Sounds pretty much like a legitimate requirement of the job. But her problem was with with taking off the veil in front of a male colleague. So how necessary was it for him to be in the room while she taught? If there was a genuine legitimite need for it (which couldn’t be met by having a female colleague in the room in his place), then I geuss she should be looking for a new job. If not, then her religious rights and freedoms should be accommodated, just like we would want ours to be.The other two incidents in Britian, that’s just bizarre to me. Common sense, the least common sense of all.

    One of the articles Lex linked to mentioned this incident, which had particularly struck me.

    The third incident that has shaken the wafer-thin facade of multiculturalism was the case of a Christian worker at a British Airways' check-in counter. She wore a small cross, barely the size of her thumbnail, to work and was sent home for refusing to remove it. British Airways cited their rule of no jewelry and no religious symbolism except if it is hidden under the uniform. Ms Nadia Eweida claims that the BA rule clearly means "no Christian symbolism" as Sikh male employees are allowed to wear their much larger steel bangles with their livery, unhidden. Indeed, they are allowed to wear their turbans to work if they wish. And Muslim women can wear headscarves.

    Ms Eweida has announced her intention to defend her right to wear her miniature cross by taking BA to court. Meanwhile, she has been suspended without pay by an unrelenting British Airways, which also publicly reprimanded her for calling attention to the incident.
    Lex made some interesting points in response, such as that in a way, the teacher in that case had negotiated in bad faith. She didn’t wear the niqab during her interview, even though a man was a part of the interview process. So by her own lights, she was not faithful getting the job, but needed to be faithful once she had it. He also noted that "there are deep divisions even within Islam as to whether or not the veil is mandatory", the only true injunction that he was aware of is that people ought to dress “modestly.”

    As I said at Lex's, personally, I’m not sure that whether or not the veil is mandatory in Islam is really that relevant - wearing a cross isn’t mandatory for Christians but that doesn’t mean that the flight attendant isn’t entitled to wear one if she wishes as a manifestation of her faith. And we all seemed to struggle with why Islamic attendents may cover their hair, and Sikhs may wear their turbans - both signs of their faith - but the Christian woman could not wear her cross.

    It was a really good comment thread at Lex's. You should go read it all.

    So having went this far afield, let's go back to Miss Noah and the hair salon. Is an uncovered head really a BFOR for the job?

    The owner of the salon justifiies her decision this way:

    "The image I have built my salon on is very urban, funky, punky. That is the look I am going for.

    If an employee were wearing a baseball cap or cowboy hat I would ask them to remove it at work. "It has nothing to do with religion. But I now feel like I have been branded a racist. My name is being dragged through the mud."

    In all honesty, I'm not quite sure on this one. If we put aside the anger and frustration that I think is becoming, perhaps legitimately, almost a preprogrammed response for many of us around these kind of incidents (myself included) and actually read 'the facts' first (imagine that, reading the facts before making a decision ... who would have thunk it?), we can focus more clearly on the question that really needs to be asked ... Is an uncovered head really a BFOR for this job?

    Between the Blogs appears to take the view that the whole thing is riduculous. But is it because he sees a BFOR or is is there more than that at work here?

    Personally, I wouldn’t hire her either. Shop rules are shop rules. Besides, as per my last post, if the world is OK with SCHOOL POLICY being given for the reason that a 13 year old girl is given 2 days detention because she showed a public display of affection when she hugged a female classmate goodbye for the weekend, then the world should just accept that it’s OK for an employer to set POLICY and require that employees adhere to it. After all, no one forces you to work somewhere.
    As tempting as it may be, that's exactly where I think we shouldn't go with this.

    Looking at how other individual cases have been handled (perhaps badly, perhaps even wrongly) isn't a justification for deciding what to do in any particular situation. And that's exactly what I think we do need to here ... look at each individual case on its own facts, putting aside those that have come before. And honestly ask whether or not, in the case of employment suits, a BFOR was involved. Or in the case of a sports team, for example, was there a legitimate safety issue in play.

    Some other 'headlines' on similar issues for your viewing pleasure, but just do me a favour and make sure you get all the facts first. That's the problem with 'headlines' .. oh yeah, feel free to remind me to do the same as neccesary:
    Shabina Begum, claimed a "victory for all Muslims" in a landmark Court of Appeal uling that Denbigh High School in Luton had unlawfully excluded her for flouting its uniform policy. Miss Begum lost almost two years' education before being accepted to another school which allowed her to wear the jilbab.

    Accounts manager Aneela Farani, told an employment tribunal that she was repeatedly dismissed as a terrorist in the wake of the attacks on London in 2005. She said colleagues at Confidential Shredding Services, based at Old Trafford, made jokes about her headscarf which humiliated her.

    Sophia Moussaoui, a divorce lawyer, was sacked by the Church of England's solicitors because her religious clothing was an embarrassment to the firm. Ms Moussaoui lost her job after Radcliffes, based in Westminster, merged with Jay Benning & Peltz, where she qualified.

    H/T to Between The Blogs



    Monday, November 12, 2007

    Sometimes You Make It Feel So Good...

    You know that feeling of a whole lot of hard work?
    With what can seem like very little pay back?

    Well, that's the sense I often have when we try to make any progress legally for persons with disabilities in this province. Lots of effort. Lots of good intentions. Results? Let's just say, its an uphill battle. So when something good happens, no matter how small it may seem ... it can feel pretty good! Put a smile on your face. And a spring in your step.

    What has me so pleased, you ask?
    Something small. Or perhaps not so small.

    Parents of children with disabilities will know how hard it can be sometimes (particularly around here!) to find out what services and programs are available. Its almost like a secret society. Hands down, the best source of information is other parents. And way too often, that's hit and miss.

    So. Our provincial government has recently come out with three 'new' programs for children and adults with disabilities. Two of these programs, while certainly not all we're looking for, are big steps forward. The problem is that people don't necessarily know about them. And for those that do, no one is exactly sure what the rules for eligibility, etc. are around each program. Until now that is.

    I just happened to have copies of these three policy documents. And wanted to post them on the blawg. But for professional reasons, I wanted the Department of Community Services' consent before posting the documents. Well, it took some time and a few persistent phone calls on my part but I was eventually told that the Department had decided that they would be putting the actual policy documents up on their own website. Which was rather unusual. But fine with me. As long as they actually made it there. Tonight when I went to the Department's website for an unrelated reason, guess what I found...

    Sometimes, it just feels so good.

    Can You 'Own' The Words 'Black Cherry' and 'Strawberry'?

    Apparently BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion thinks so.

    Black Cherry, Strawberry: not only cola flavors but target of BlackBerry trademark suit's Russell Shaw -- Remember not quite two years ago, when BlackBerry-maker Research In Motion was being sued by a patent-holding law firm many thought was acting like a “patent troll?” My how the tables have turned. As Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper reports today, RIM is suing not a patent holding firm, but popular phone maker LG Electronics Inc. And [...]

    And from the Globe and Mail:

    As far as RIM is concerned, any wireless device with the words Black, Berry or Pearl in their name should be off limits to rivals unless they have its consent, the company says in a complaint filed in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California.

    I'm not much into Patent Law so its not like I have any real legal knowledge of what I speak here. But as a good friend of mine likes to say, "Common sense is the least common sense of all". I just hope that the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California will be imbued with a large amount of the least common sense when it hears this case.

    H/T to US Patents

    You Want To Do What?!

    Still wondering what you should be if when you grow up?
    Well, you could always take the quiz. No, pages of question to confound and perplex you. Just pick your favourite square.

    As for me :


    You Should Be a Politician

    Confident, assertive, and dedicated - you know what you want in life and how to get it.
    Stubborn and opinionated, you can stand your ground... even if it's unpopular.
    And while you have strong views, you never overwhelm people with your opinions.
    A true charmer, you subtly influence people into seeing things your way.

    You do best when you:

    - Work according to your own rules
    - Can change the world with what you do

    You would also be a good lawyer or talk show host.


    Oh dear...
    Frankly, I don't think its me.
    Then again, some might argue, that my career choice might show otherwise.

    Update: I'm really interested in other people's results. Let me know. Also, since I initially had a lot of trouble choosing, I went back and redid the test, picking my other choice. Apparently if this 'legal' thing' doesn't work out for me, I could also try social work. Which, given the whole write-up for that one, feels like a better fit.

    Actually, that could explain a lot. Since I really do seem to be trying to combine both parts in my work at the moment. What can I say? I just gotta be me...

    H/T to Think Like A Woman. Act Like A Man for the link

    ThinkGeek's Flying Alarm Clock

    My God ... the noise alone on this sucker would be enough to keep me awake for a week!


    H/T to Redacted in Camera for the link

    One Laptop per Child

    One learning child. One connected child. One laptop at a time.

    Submitted for your consideration.
    The mission of One Laptop Per Child (OLPC) is to empower the children of developing countries to learn by providing one connected laptop to every school-age child. In order to accomplish our goal, we need people who believe in what we’re doing and want to help make education for the world’s children a priority, not a privilege. Between November 12 and November 26, OLPC is offering a Give One Get One program in the United States and Canada. During this time, you can donate the revolutionary XO laptop to a child in a developing nation, and also receive one for the child in your life in recognition of your contribution. Find out more,

    ... Today marks the first day of our limited-time "Give One Get One" program. Starting today, when you donate an XO laptop to a child in the developing world, you'll receive one for the child in your life. The price for the two laptops will be $399, $200 of which is tax-deductible. Additionally, T-Mobile is offering donors one year of complimentary access to T-Mobile HotSpot locations throughout the United States, which can be used from any Wi-Fi-capable device, including the XO laptop.

    While OLPC has a presence throughout the world, with official partnerships and various pilot programs, this exclusive North American Give One Get One program will specifically benefit Afghanistan, Cambodia, Haiti and Rwanda. We are currently in discussions with other interested countries and may be adding more, so stay tuned.


    And now you know what I know.

    Sunday, November 11, 2007

    Time Bombs

    Watched something else on TV last night. On Global Currents.

    They call themselves the 'Atomic Soldiers'. Check out the photo gallery.

    In the spring of 1957, 40 young Canadian soldiers from the Queen's Own Rifles were sent to Nevada on a top secret mission. These young men did not know they would be used as guinea pigs in the most important nuclear test program of the Cold War: Operation Plumbbob.
    Since then they've been in engaged in a battle with the Canadian government. A battle to have them even recognized. Let alone compensated. You see, they were deliberately exposed to radiation during Operation Plumbbob. Many of them are now dead. From cancer. And many more have been diagnosed with cancer.

    In February, 2007, a few days before a planned news conference on Parliament Hill and with this documentary in the works, they finally received a phone call from the Department of Defence. The then Minister of Defence wanted to meet with them. So they met. And were promised he would look into it. They had been trying to get somebody to look into it for 50 years.

    On November 6, 2007, a press conference was finally held on Parliament Hill.

    Do you think they have heard anything back from the former or current Minister or anybody else in power yet? The present Minister of Defence is The Honourable Peter MacKay, by the way. A Nova Scotian.

    Spread the word around. That we think its long past time this matter was seriously looked into. And check out the vetrans' blog.

    Cross-posted at The Flight Deck

    A Helping Hand

    I watched a great story on W5 last night.

    It was about a group of Canadian doctors who volunteer in the hospital in Kandahar. Yup, Afghanistan. It seems that there aren't enough doctors in uniform so a partnership has been formed with civilian doctors.
    Framed in plywood, the tiny hospital is tucked away in the corner of the sprawling Canadian base in Kandahar. It may not look like one you'd find in Canada, but it does house the sophisticated medical equipment needed in modern medicine but it also maintains a very military flavour. Nurses wear side-arms and those in military pants stand shoulder to shoulder with those in surgical scrubs. And while the Canadians run the hospital, they also work alongside American and Dutch personnel.

    It may look calm in the operating room. But Dr. Puskas, an orthopedic surgeon from who has pioneered new techniques in hip and spine surgeries, says "They come in horrendously injured with parts missing and parts of other people. I heard this phase recently biologic shrapnel, another person's body part as a that was something that was new to me."


    Putting their own lives on the line along side those of our military and those from other countries.

    It's not just the medical emergencies created by war that are challenging. This hospital is in the line of fire. Taliban rockets have and could have hit the base at anytime. But the civilian doctors didn't even think about the danger until the moment came to say goodbye.

    For Dr. Puskas, it was one of his sons who reminded him of the potential. "I don't think he really understood it and as I was going through the checkpoint in Toronto to say goodbye he turned to me and he says you know is the next time I see you, going to be in a box? Because he had seen Canadians come home in coffins and that startled me because I hadn't really seen that that was sort of on his radar screen to that extent."

    But its the stories of hope I remember. A healthy baby born to a mother whose face is badly disfigured from an explosive blast.

    A 10 year old boy badly injuerd. My mind struggles to remember ... was this the one that had his leg amputated? I'm not sure. But I do know that he was slowly nursed back to health. And left the hospital with his grandfather by his side.

    A 13 year old with tuberculosis. The disease is slowly destroying his spine and it won't be long before he is paralyzed. But a spinal fusion is performed by Canada's best spinal surgeon; a man with a badly needed skill set in the right place at the right time. And now he is already walking beter than he was before.

    It makes me proud to be a Canadian. And makes me proud of my fellow Canadians. What about you?

    In Flanders Field written by: John McCrae

    My oldest, the Blue Jay, really wanted to post 'In Flanders Fields' for Rememberance Day.

    So here she is ...

    In Flanders Fields the Poppies blow
    Between Crosses row on row,
    That mark our place and in the sky
    The larks, still bravely singing, fly
    Scarce heard amid the guns below.

    We are the dead. Short days ago

    We lived, felt dawn, saw sunset glow,
    Love and were loved and now we lie
    In Flanders Fields.

    Take up our quarrel with the foe:
    To you from failing hands we throw
    The tourch be yours to hold it high.
    If ye break faith with us who die
    We shall not sleep though Poppies grow
    In Flanders Fields.

    - John McCrae

    I hope you all enjoy my poem. Write to me back and tell me what you think. If you go to the New Minas Baptist Church you will see a picture of poppies.

    Happy Rememberance Day
    Blue Jay

    "A Pittance Of Time"

    One of my favourite videos. Of all time.
    Because it really says so much.

    I hope you enjoy it as much as I do.




    And appreciate the fact that we actually have the ability and the choice to give those two minutes to honour those that have done and continue to do so much for us.

    I probably feel a special connection to this video because Terry Kelly is from Nova Scotia. And I have watched him perform many times.

    The video site which tells the story of the incident that motivated this song and video. And Terry Kelly's site.

    Saturday, November 10, 2007

    The Marine Corps Version of Genesis

    For those that don't know, I'm a huge fan of the Neptunus Lex blog. Lex is an American naval aviator (although 'former' is more accurate; while still a naval officer, as he says, he now flies nothing more exciting than a desk) and an absolutely amazing writer. If you don't believe me, check out Rhythms. Seriously. Do.

    Anyway, today happens to be the birthday of the US Marine Corps. Which, sad to say, would not have warranted comment here but for MajHarvey dropping this great little ditty in the comments box over at Lex's.

    Its quite a hoot:

    The MARINE CORPS Version of Genesis:

    In the beginning was God, and all else was darkness and void, and without form. So God created the heavens and the Earth. He created the sun, and the moon, and the stars, so that light might pierce the darkness. The Earth, God divided between the land and the sea, and these he filled with many assorted creatures.

    And the dark, salty, slimy creatures that inhabited the murky depths of the oceans, God called sailors. And He dressed them accordingly. They had little trousers that looked like bells at the bottom. And their shirts had cute little flaps on them to hide the hickeys on their necks. He also gave them long sideburns and shabby looking beards. God nicknamed them “squids” and banished them to a lifetime at sea, so that normal folks would not have to associate with them. To further identify these unloved creatures, He called them “petty” and “commodore” instead of titles worthy of red-blooded men.

    And the flaky creatures of the land, God called soldiers. And with a twinkle in His eye, and a sense of humor that only He could have, God made their trousers too short and their covers too large. He also made their pockets oversized, so that they may warm their hands. And to adorn their uniforms, God gave them badges in quantities that only a dime store owner could appreciate. And He gave them emblems and crests… and all sorts of shiny things that glittered…and devices that dangled. (When you are God you tend to get carried away.)

    On the 6th day, He thought about creating some air creatures for which he designed a Greyhound bus driver’s uniform, especially for Air Force flyboys. But He discarded the idea during the first week, and it was not until years later that some apostles resurrected this theme and established what we now know as the “Wild-Blue-Yonder Wonders.”

    And on the 7th day, as you know, God rested.

    But on the 8th day, at 0730, God looked down upon the earth and was not happy. No, God was not happy! So He thought about His labors, and in His divine wisdom God created a divine creature. And this He called a Marine. And these Marines, who God had created in His own image, were to be of the air, and of the land, and of the sea. And these He gave many wonderful uniforms. Some were green; some were blue with red trim. And in the early days, some were even a beautiful tan. He gave them practical fighting uniforms, so that they could wage war against the forces of Satan and evil. He gave them service uniforms for their daily work and training. And He gave them evening and dress uniforms… sharp and stylish, handsome things… so that they might promenade with their ladies on Saturday night and impress the hell out of everybody! He even gave them swords, so that people who were not impressed could be dealt with accordingly.

    And at the end of the 8th day,God looked down upon the earth and saw that it was good. But was God happy? No! God was still not happy! Because in the course of His labors, He had forgotten one thing: He did not have a Marine uniform for himself. He thought about it, and thought about it, and finally God satisfied Himself in knowing that, well… not everybody can be a Marine!

    Semper Fi, y’all!

    Indeed.