Monday, December 31, 2007

A Toast To You ... And Me

It's hard to believe that the end of yet another year is only a few short hours away. And what a year it's been!

From getting hooked on this blogging gig to dealing with the tears and laughter caused by an aging parent to watching my girls grow even bigger and more independent. From thinking, hoping, praying that the seizures were gone to knowing that weren't. And, amazingly enough, to being, basically, okay with that. Its been a year of laughter and tears and, true enough, sometimes the balance tips more one way than the other. But whatever it might have been, it will soon be gone.

So if I had to pick the two best things from the past year, it would have to be discovering blogging and watching my kids as they struggle to come into their own. Yeah, its a often a struggle for them, but that doesn't make it any less amazing to watch. My girls are my life ... and there are many, many days that I have no doubt that they will be my death, too. They make my laugh and keep me going. And make me lay awake at night with tears and worry. I guess it must be some sort of package deal. But I wouldn't change it for a moment.

Blogging ... is a blast. And has led to me making even more online friends. And some wild things seem to have grown out of the blawg ... as one example, I have been asked to join a country-wide committee on the implementation of the RSDP. So it appears that I have made some contacts. And perhaps, someday, they will take me professionally to where I really want to be.

So here's to another year. Of ups and downs, laughter and tears and steps taken forwards and backwards. And sideways ... let's never forget sideways. After all, sometimes they're the most fun of all!

Here's to my husband. Here's to the Blue Jay and the Kit Kat. To my mom. And my brother. To my friends, both close and far. To those I have hugged in person and those I have only ever met online.

And here's to you. Your family. And your friends.

May 2008 be a good year. May it keep us on our toes and make us laugh and cry. Yes, I say both laugh and cry because somehow I know that we need both parts to keeps us human.


~HAPPY NEW YEAR~

Sunday, December 30, 2007

Working To Serve You Better ... But Not On Sundays ... Or Boxing Day

One of my many jobs is digesting new provincial legislation as it's passed. Which means, if nothing else, I will never be able to plead ignorance of the law. Or at least not provincial law.

But, believe it or not, I'm also finding that the work is also good for providing blogging material. For example, did you know that Nova Scotia now [read finally] has class action proceedings legislation? Meaning that, just like everybody else in the civilized world, residents of this Province can now bring a class action suit (where they are acting not just for themselves but other people with similar claims against the same defendant). Well, thanks to my work, readers of my other blawg now know.

And then there's that blog post I never did get around to, which was going to be called "Trying to Get Right", ... to be based on the new Retail Business Designated Day Closing Act.

You see, for a long time, like up until about a year ago, Nova Scotia did not have Sunday shopping. Nope. None. With a few exceptions of course, like drug stores, touristy kind of places, etc. And restaurants and movie theatres and the like were open, but no real shopping. Which, believe it or not, many of us actually liked.

But then we were dragged, some would say kicking and screaming, into the 21st century.

"The rules will be the same for all retail outlets, creating a level playing field for all retailers in Nova Scotia, regardless of what they sell," he said.

Retail stores of all kinds can open on Sundays and other holidays, starting this weekend. The only exception is Remembrance Day, which is covered under a separate law.

The Premier, apparently, thought this was a good idea. Many others did not. Especially when it meant that stores could legally open on every day, with the exception of Remembrance Day. Not only do the majority of Nova Scotians not cotton to the idea of stores being open on Christmas Day, Canada Day or Labour Day [say what, a day off for 'labour' and they have to work?!], we're also not so fond of the idea of them opening on Boxing Day, either.

I know, I know, I can just hear the gasps of horror now. There must be something wrong with us. Forget the Grinch who stole Christmas, this is all about the Grinch who stole Boxing Day! Well, it works like this you see ... if the stores are closed of Boxing Day (more gasps of horror), it just means that you get to shop 'til you drop and take advantage of all those Boxing Day specials the very next day, on December 27th.

And the people who work in retail? Can have another day off. With their families. For Christams. Yeah, we're a little funny about things like that around here. Go figure.

So, about a week or so before Christmas this year, the government announced that it would support an opposition bill that would would force stores to close for an additional seven designated days a year; namely, Boxing Day, Canada Day, Christmas Day, Easter Sunday, Good Friday, Labour Day, New Year’s Day and Thanksgiving Day.

Which makes us happy.

And which, my dear friends, also led to me spending a portion of my Christmas holiday digesting the Retail Business Designated Day Closing Act. So that I could share it with you. In a blog post.

See now how it all makes sense? Perfect harmony. And for any out there shaking their heads at our 'backwardness', think about this ... it might just have something to recommend it. It's a quieter, more laid back way of life around here ... at least on Sundays. Or ... at least it use to be.

And that's the way, uh huh, uh huh, we like it...

What Too Much Law School Might Do To Ya




Be Afraid. Be Very Afraid.

H/T to Sui Generis

Field Manual For Dummies

This is really quite funny. So even if you think you are not too much into anything 'military', give it a read.

FM 3-0 for SAMS Students
Table of Contents
Introduction……………………….…2
Text……………………………………..3
Glossary………………………….……5

Introduction: You are students. This means you are supposed to learn things. Read this and learn it.

There will be a test. There are only two grades…”win”, or “lose”.

Come back with your shield, or on it.

I.M. Mean
General
Soldier in Chief

FM 3-0 Operations for SAMS Students
1. The world is full of bad people. Mind you, not everyone is bad, but there are enough of them out there that we have to arm ourselves. Over the years, we’ve done a pretty good job of that. When the bad people scare us or hurt us, we have to whack them. This is hard, because you want to try and whack the bad people where they live and not where we live. Naturally, the bad people don’t want to get whacked, and they feel pretty smug because we aren’t mean enough to whack all of them at once. So we have to go over to where they live and whack them carefully. That’s why we have an Army and not just a Navy and an Air Force with trillions of dollars worth of super weapons. We don’t get such expensive weapons, because we break them a lot more rapidly. Even worse, the bad people can get close enough that they can whack Soldiers even though they get whacked a lot more.

Read the rest of it at Neptunus Lex.
Really. Go. Now!

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Gratitude Journal

It's been a long time since I made an entry in any gratitude journal anywhere. So I figure that this is as good a time and place as any to reinstate the practice.

I am grateful for
  • paramedics. I have yet to meet a paramedic I didn't like. Every one we have ever dealt with has been empathetic, friendly and compassionate while at the same time being equally competent and professional. Paramedics are my friends.
  • my daughter's neurologist. We've had a few and I wouldn't trade ours for any I've known or heard about. He's kind, caring, empathetic, will bend over backwards to help and perhaps most important of all, he really sees the Blue Jay as a real child, not just another patient.
  • being able to give my children a good Christmas. So many can't.
  • the fact that when one door closes, another generally opens. I recently lost a job. And just as quickly, was given the opportunity to pick up even more work in my other job.
  • the 'little' things I see at the most unexpected times, the surprises that show how well the Blue Jay is doing. When you have a challenged child, the simplest little things that you would usually take for granted can be huge milestones. And when you suddenly and unexpectedly witness one, it's like being given a precious and unexpected gift that lights up your whole life.
  • hugs and kisses and giggles and grins. Nothing special, just some of the most important and valuable things in life.

Friday, December 28, 2007

A Soldier's Wife's Christmas

Recognizing that this is a little late, I just fdiscovered this in the comment section at Sgt Hook's. And since a dear friend's husband will soon be leaving for his second deployment, this time to Afghanistan, I am honoured to post this here.

A Wife’s Christmas
‘Twas the night before Christmas, when all through the house
Not a creature was stirring, especially not a mouse.

She kept a tight shift, all chores would be done,
No rodents would be in this house trying to have fun.

She finally got the children to settle down and stay in their beds,
Now she runs through the list of things to do, kept in her head.

She had bought all the presents wrapped them up too,
Balanced the budget, shopped for the food.

She mailed all the cards to family and friends,
Sent a Christmas care package special for him.

She’s been busy of late, checking chores off her list,
Christmas must go on for her two little kids.
School recitals, and plays and church functions too,
Without him she never thought, these were all things she could do.

For a moment she almost nods off,
Sleep lately has been tough.
She remembers a few more details,
The list grows, time is never enough.

She completes her listed chores,
Taskers, As he would say.
And heads off to bed,
Prepped for another Christmas Day.

Now the children wake up, and rush down the stairs,
Mom is already awake, sitting, waiting in his chair.
Kids are excited, there are many presents for them,
Their minds filled with toys, they briefly forget him.

She calms the children down, there is something to be done,
Before they tear into their presents, and begin all the fun.
Lets bow our heads and together we’ll pray,
For your daddy who cant be here, with us today.

A little girls voice asks “Mommy where is he again?”
“Is he still out fighting, all those bad men?”
Yes my dear, he’s still standing his post,
Maybe next Christmas though, he’ll get to stay home.

One by one they open presents,
With new toys they begin to play.
She takes a sip of her coffee and watches,
Although with her children, another lonely Christmas Day.

At the end of the day, it was mission success,
She gave it her all and she had done her best.
The kids now tired and ready for bed,
She tucks them in gently and gives a
kiss on the head.

While this story may sound sad,
They share a common thread.
There are many strong wives out there,
Having yet another Christmas, without their men.

Update: Found this video in my travels, of the same name. It's a beautiful song. You might want to bring your kleenex with, though.

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Fallout From The Holidays


I REALLY NEED TO GET GOING,
BUT JUST CAN'T SEEM TO GET MOTIVATED.............

Update: Just realized that even more than me ... this is really my daughter, Kit Kat!

H/T to Dar

I Can So Say That!

Came across a site today that I thought some fellow bloggers might be interested in. To be perused in some of that oh-so-abundant spare time we all have .... yeah, right!

Anyway, its the Electronic Frontier Foundation's Legal Guide for Bloggers.

Whether you're a newly minted blogger or a relative old-timer, you've been seeing more and more stories pop up every day about bloggers getting in trouble for what they post.

Like all journalists and publishers, bloggers sometimes publish information that other people don't want published. You might, for example, publish something that someone considers defamatory, republish an AP news story that's under copyright, or write a lengthy piece detailing the alleged crimes of a candidate for public office.

The difference between you and the reporter at your local newspaper is that in many cases, you may not have the benefit of training or resources to help you determine whether what you're doing is legal. And on top of that, sometimes knowing the law doesn't help - in many cases it was written for traditional journalists, and the courts haven't yet decided how it applies to bloggers.

But here's the important part: None of this should stop you from blogging. Freedom of speech is the foundation of a functioning democracy, and Internet bullies shouldn't use the law to stifle legitimate free expression. That's why EFF created this guide, compiling a number of FAQs designed to help you understand your rights and, if necessary, defend your freedom.

Check it out if you're so-inclined.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Happy Christmas

For some reason I seem to be stuck on this song lately.
I hope you enjoy it, too.

So this is Christmas
And what have you done
Another year over
And a new one just begun
And so this is Christmas
I hope you have fun
The near and the dear ones
The old and the young

A very merry Christmas
And a happy New Year
Let’s hope it’s a good one
Without any fear

Update: Well, that's not a very good example of Christmas spirit. Apparently someone stole their video (embedding) back. So I switched to this version, complete with an intro.

Now maestro, shall we try that again?

Sunday, December 23, 2007

Whew!

Finally got the house blog all cleaned up and decorated for Christmas ... yes, yes, I realize that some might consider me a little slow.

But don't ya think it all looks nice? Only thing is ... I don't know how I will ever manage to get it all put back the way it was after the New Year.

Oh well, it's my first Christmas blogging, so I guess it's all worth it!

Last Minute Shopping List

To help any last minute shoppers out there, I have compliled a list of Christmas shopping suggestions (with a little help from Oren Arnold).

Christmas gift suggestions:

To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent,tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.

Now, hit those stores!

Saturday, December 22, 2007

A Ray of Hope, A Beacon of Sense

Now if only we all could remember this ...
What a Merry season this could be.

Friday, December 21, 2007

You've Never Heard It Sung This Way Before


And with that I say, A Merry Christmas to All and to All a Good Night ...

H/T to Tam

The Scariest Of All Pipe Dreams

There was a great cartoon in today's Chronicle Herald. The caption stated "There's always a loophole" and the picture [sadly unavaillable] showed a car chugging along, the interior full of smoke, with a baby in their baby seat strapped on the roof. Yep, the roof.

Well, it was funny.

But it's also sad. In part, because apparently I am one of the very few that any have any problem with the Province's new ban against smoking in vehicles when children are present. Yes, I suppose I might have whined about this once or twice before. But everything I read is not just in agreement with this new legislation but actually applauds and promotes it. In hopes that the other provinces soon follow suit.

Be careful what you ask for.

The beautiful little ocean-side town of Bridgewater has drafted a by-law that would ban smoking on all streets and sidewalks. In fact, smokers would be allowed to light up only in their homes or on two provincially owned bridges spanning the La Have River and uniting the town. Personally, I can't quite fathom why the same people who think the province-wide vehicle ban is okay have problems with this one.

True, the town of Bridgewater is certainly being noticed, but for the wrong reasons, as council and its citizens haggle over the proposed smoking ban. The sight of some 100 residents puffing on cigarettes, cigars and even pipes, as they protested on the two bridges Saturday, made newspapers and newscasts across the province and beyond. And a Facebook site has also drawn more than 600 members opposed to the smoking ban.

Bridgewater councillors trying to force all their fellow citizens to butt out on the town’s streets may mean well, but they’re blowing smoke in seeking a total ban. Adopting a bylaw that can’t be fully and properly enforced is misguided at best and reckless at worst.

Oh, right. It's totally doable to fully and properly enforce a ban on smoking in vehicles when children are present (let's see, first the police will have to figure out if anyone in the vehicles around them are actually smoking and then whether there are any children in the vehicle ... from those of small stature whose heads often don't protrude over the top of the back seat to those at the upper age limit where 13 year olds can just as easily look like 18 year olds these days). As opposed to one that would ban smoking on all streets and sidewalks. Where people and their activities are more easily visible. Funny, I actually think the latter would be easier to enforce.

But none of that is really my point. Unless its that stupidity appears to reign supreme. Nope, I am still stuck on the thought that unless and until the act of smoking itself is to be prohibited under the criminal law, I just can't see how the government (at any level) can justify intruding this far into people's personal lives ... or should I say 'personal spaces'. It's one thing to have rules in government buildings, even in 'public places', but it's quite another to take that very intrusive step into a person's private vehicle. And if you can go into their vehicle, what's to stop you from going into their home? In fact, I seriously wonder what is stopping the Bridgewater council from attempting to ban smoking in private homes.

But as I said, my viewpoint is apparently very much in the minority.

Given the obvious ill health effects of second-hand smoke, to argue that a parent (who should be a role model), or anyone else, should still have the right to light up in a vehicle when young people are present – beyond being unconscionable – is to put the right to smoke above the right to not be harmed by someone else’s actions. That argument is clearly untenable in a civilized society.

Smokers must realize that though they have the right to smoke, they do not have the right – in the name of personal freedom – to pollute the air that others must breathe. In the case of society’s most vulnerable members, children, that’s even more emphatically the case.

In fact, it would seem that only those evil smokers agree with me. The difference being, of course, that I am far from arguing that smoking is not harmful per se or that there's 'nothing wrong' with smoking around children. You can see my previous thoughts on that.

I must admit that it is a rather strange place for me, personally, to be. After all, in some cyber-circles [they know who they are], it seems to be pretty much a total given that I am one of those dreaded ... [gasp] ... socialists. And yet here I am defending personal freedoms over the protection of other people's health? Well, yes and no.

First of all, I'm not promoting smoking or even the right to smoke as much as I'm promoting logic. Anything that isn't prohibited is, impliedly at least, allowed. So if the law allows me to smoke, then why aren't I allowed to smoke in, of all my places, my own privately owned property? On the other hand, if tobacco is that harmful to others (and I'm not saying that it isn't), then ban it. Outlaw it. Prohibit it. Criminalize it. Completely.

I guess I have a problem with these new laws at two levels. First, given the context that smoking is legal, the laws appear, to me at least, to be illogical. And secondly, given that same context of legality, then yes, they are too intrusive.

Make a decision. Get it right. And be consistent. Is that too much to ask?

Frosty Gets Caught

Click to enlarge

H/T to unkawill of Unkawill's Ramblings


Thursday, December 20, 2007

Welcome To My World

This is just too good to pass up.
Especially since it seems to perfectly sum up my life recently.



H/T to FbL

Short But Sweet

Anybody else like to fly?
No, I mean really fly!




Some day...
What? A girl can still dream, can't she?

H/T to BZ's 2007 San Fransisco Fleet Week by way of Neptunus Lex

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Two Thoughts

The last couple of days I've had two recurring thoughts that just won't go away.

'God grant me the ability to accept the things I can't change, the courage to change the things I can and the wisdom to know the difference.'

That and I once heard that if all you have in your toolbox is a hammer, everything looks like a nail. Well, right at the moment I feel like I *am* a hammer.

And my entire world is made up of nails.


That's Certainly One Way To Find A Suspect



Shamelessly borrowed from R. Enrochs, Esq
Thanks for the best chuckle I've had in a while.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Magic In A Box

Decorating the tree tonight.


It always amazes me how much magic can be found in a couple of little old cardboard boxes.


Oh Me Eyes

Update: If anyone is interested in understanding this and is prepared to be a little bit more freaked out, go here. H/T to Army Girl for that last link

Check this out.

Shamelessly borrowed from Lex's blog, who borrowed it from someone else who borrowed it .... you get the picture.





Apparently my blogging skills ain't that great. Click on the picture to get a dancing version.

The Right Brain vs Left Brain test … do you see the dancer turning clockwise or counter-clockwise?

If clockwise, then you use more of the right side of the brain and vice versa.

Most of people see the dancer turning counter-clockwise though you can try to focus and change the direction; see if you can do it.

LEFT BRAIN FUNCTIONS
uses logic

detail oriented

facts rule

words and language

present and past

math and science

can comprehend

knowing

acknowledges

order/pattern perception

knows object name

reality based

forms strategies

practical

safe

RIGHT BRAIN FUNCTIONS

uses feeling

“big picture” oriented

imagination rules

symbols and images

present and future

philosophy & religion

can “get it” (i.e. meaning)

believes

appreciates

spatial perception

knows object function

fantasy based

presents possibilities

impetuous

risk taking


So which are you?
Me ... clockwise all the way.

Try it and I will share a little secret with you later.


Bloggers Unite On December 17

Update: My good deed on December 17th, you ask. To put the matter quite simply, I didn't kill anybody. Even if sorely tempted. And you?

For what it's worth.... It seems to be kind of like a random act of kindness, pass it on sort of thing.




And since I'm all about spreading the joy, I hereby declare that you don't have to be a blogger to particpate.

Blogees welcome.
You can post your random act of kindness here.

H/T to LawEddie.com

Sunday, December 16, 2007

It's Beginning To Feel A Lot Like Christmas

... At Least Around Here.

The threat of a big snowstorm (a lovely nor'easter) had them cancelling activities left, right and centre this morning. Even before there was a flake of snow falling. Which always gives me a chuckle.

But this time, the snow did come. Almost on cue. It made for a beautiful Christmasy feeling kind of day, as long as you had no need nor desire to be out and about. And even better if you had the foresight to pick up your Christmas tree yesterday. So it was a great day to put the lights on the tree and decorate inside the house while playing Christmas music. I had told the girls we would finish decorating the tree tonight but, alas, it did not happen. Seems that we need to get a few more lights to make up for the ones that hubby swears were working before he put the strings on the tree. Still, it looks pretty darn good just as it is.

I just love Christmas trees.

The Kit Kat helped her dad with the tree today while I was decorating. And as she danced by me in the kitchen, I caught a glimmer of the happiness in her eyes. She, who is always so much into the next latest thing we should purchase her. So I grabbed at her as she giggled and danced on her way past, gave her a hug and whispered in her ear that this is what Christmas is all about. One of those sweet moments.

And yet at the same time, its been a sad weekend too. The time goes by so fast, these kids of mine can be so difficult one moment and so sweet the next (and why, oh why don't they come with instruction manuals?) and we continue to have a hard time with my mom. Funny, how when time passes, it can cause such happiness and sorrow at the same time.

But then I was informed after supper that it was time to find a Christmas movie cartoon to watch. And so we did. And the day ended on a nice note. And for once, I don't even mind that its pretty likely to be a snow day tomorrow. Because at least I will be able to throw them outside in it.

Yes, this post was inspired by Lex's beautiful post about his Saturday with his family. So here’s to a peaceful Christmas season for you and your families and many, many days of unexpected joy. Because you never quite know just where ithey might be hiding.

Grammatically Incorrect

You Scored an D


You got 4/10 questions correct.

Your English mistakes aren't exactly forgivable. They're downright embarrassing.
It's time to hit the books. There are many grammar rules that you need to memorize.
Your writing comes off as illiterate, and your improper education is rearing its ugly head.
For your friends' sakes, polish things up a bit. Then they'll be proud to show their friends your words.


Say it isn't so ...
The only one I can never figure out is its. It's Its just darn confusing to me. *sigh*

Somber H/T to Reflections by Kris

Friday, December 14, 2007

Oh Joy, Oh Bliss

I am so very pleased to report that Nova Scotia has become the first province in Canada to ban smoking in vehicles with children in them ... NOT!

You will recall our discussion about Wolfville being the first in town in Canada to pass such a by-law. Well, now apparently everyone wants to play copy cat. Ontario and BC are both debating legislation similar to that passed by Nova Scotia.

Like I said before, I don't smoke. Nobody is allowed to smoke in our home. And, personally, I think those that smoke around kids are nuts, as in seriously need to have their head examined. Let's just say that I never ever thought that I would agree with anything a group like MyChoice.ca had to say.
A spokeswoman for MyChoice.ca, a group funded by the Canadian TobaccoManufacturers’ Council, said the ban is a slippery slope to making it illegal to smoke anywhere.
I guess none of us should ever say never.

Because, really, next step has to be to ban smoking in people's own homes. And as dangerous as smoking is for your health and that of your own and other people's children, as long as tobacco is a legal substance ... what the hell are we doing? I said it before:

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?

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 prohibited 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 ...

What's this world coming to? Indeed.

Quote of the day:
"It’s about making Nova Scotia healthier and safer. We don’t want to make criminals out of mothers and fathers, but we want to make sure that children are healthy and safe."
You might want to work on a better way of accomplishing that. I'm just saying...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Where Is Your Political Compass?

Finally found that political test that I've been looking for for quite a while. It plots your position on a four axis chart, so instead of just being labelled as 'left' or 'right', you now can find your position vis-a-vis not just left and right but also authoritarian and libertarian. You lucky dog, you.

The left/right divide essentially measures economics, you see. Whereas the authoritarian/libertarian divide measures the social dimension.
Both an economic dimension and a social dimension are important factors for a proper political analysis. By adding the social dimension you can show that Stalin was an authoritarian leftist (ie the state is more important than the individual) and that Gandhi, believing in the supreme value of each individual, is a liberal leftist. While the former involves state-imposed arbitrary collectivism in the extreme top left, on the extreme bottom left is voluntary collectivism at regional level, with no state involved. Hundreds of such anarchist communities existed in Spain during the civil war period.

You can also put Pinochet, who was prepared to sanction mass killing for the sake of the free market, on the far right as well as in a hardcore authoritarian position. On the non-socialist side you can distinguish someone like Milton Friedman, who is anti-state for fiscal rather than social reasons, from Hitler, who wanted to make the state stronger, even if he wiped out half of humanity in the process.

The chart also makes clear that, despite popular perceptions, the opposite of fascism is not communism but anarchism (ie liberal socialism), and that the opposite of communism ( i.e. an entirely state-planned economy) is neo-liberalism (i.e. extreme deregulated economy).
I know. It all makes perfect sense now, right?

Actually what I do find interesting is how meaningless categorizing people as either "the left" or "the right" really is. Is anybody going to really argue that Stalin and Ghandi were two peas in a pod? Or that Milton Friedman and Hitler were separated at birth? But both Stalin and Ghandi are lumped into that "left" category and both Friedman and Hitler are lumped into the right.

See what I mean?

Gee, you couldn't possibly be suggesting that maybe, just maybe, all this polarized nonsense we see (particularly in the US, but also to a lesser extent in Canada as well) is all just ... nonsense, could you?

Another interesting point question ... oh fascism, fascism, from where fore art thou? Now that's been a bit of a raging debate in some circles for quite a while but according to this chart fascism is neither a construct belonging solely to the left or the right. If I'm reading this correctly, fascist states can and will take root on both sides of the spectrum, as its actually a construct originating in the social, as opposed to the economic, dimension. And, unfortunately for us all, authoritarianism can be found both to the left and to the right.

Also, unfortunately, it seems to me that most discussions of facsism's proper place often serve as little more than a useful tool in the game of scapegoating whichever particular political ideology a person disagrees with. It appearing that all most “civilized” individuals can agree on is how detestable the ideology, itself, is as witnessed by the fact that no present day ideology wishes to take credit for it.

At any rate, I am sure you will be very pleased to know that yours truly can be found right, er, left (??) about here...


Which, amusingly, puts me in the same quadrant as Ghandi. Begging the question, I suppose, of whether that makes me more similar to Ghandi and Friedman or Ghandi and Stalin ...

So. Don't be afraid.
Where do you call home?

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Baby Steps

Its been said that the greatest journey begins with the smallest step.

And thus it was that the Chairman of the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP (CPC) issued an interim report finding that the RCMP should only use tasers as an alternative to lethal force, not as an "intermediate" device such as pepper spray. This is significant as it means that the taser should only be used in situations where a person is being “combative” or poses a risk of “death or grievous bodily harm” to the officer, themselves or the general public.

Paul Kennedy, the author of the report, was asked to advise on the use of the electric stun gun after the death of Polish citizen Robert Dziekanski at the Vancouver airport on Oct. 14. Although the report does not recommend an outright moratorium on Taser use by the RCMP, it calls for more accurate and meaningful data to be collected on Taser use, finding that current policy has evolved without "adequate, if any, reference to the realities of the weapon's use by the RCMP."
"The change would mean it would only be used when an individual is being combative" or posing a risk of "death or grievous bodily harm" to the officer, themselves or the general public, says the report.

Currently, RCMP policy classifies Tasers as an "intermediate" device, placing it in the same category as pepper spray.

That classification allows Mounties to use the weapon when someone is deemed "resistant."

As a result, the Commission feels the weapon can be used "earlier than reasonable."
What? Is taser use a problem or something?

Although the largest, the RCMP is just one police force operating in Canada. And yet, some 2,800 tasers are being used by the its more than 9,100 members across the country; the RCMP alone have wielded the electronic guns over 3,000 times since their introduction in December, 2001. Yet no annual report has ever been produced, nor has the force thoroughly examined its statistical information on taser use in developing related policy. Gee, anybody else see a potential problem here?

Other recommendations included in the interim report include:
• changing the RCMP's taser training program to reflect its status as an impact weapon
• requiring recertification in taser use every two years
• requiring and enforcing stricter reporting requirements every time a taser is used and
• creating an RCMP national “use-of-force” co-ordinator to oversee policies, techniques and equipment

Although some are already taking issue with the recommendations (RCMP Commissioner William Elliott has expressed concern that barring the use of tasers might force officers to use guns, batons, or other methods to apprehend people in some cases), personally, I think its a great start. I don't think that tasers should necessarily be outlawed. But I do think we need to be very careful to ensure that they are used responsibly.

The biggest potential pitfall is, as always, political.
“I will review this interim report before commenting further,” Public Safety Minister Stockwell Day said Wednesday. “Our government takes this matter seriously and recognizes that Canadians must have full confidence in their national police force.”
The Executive Summary on Tasers by the Chair, Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP can be found here. For any so inclined.

End of The Line, Part III

She gets the Bearamedic:

Nova Scotia's Paramedics gave me a BEAR HUG!
Me? I get that old run over my a really big truck, think my body is going to melt into a puddle now kind of feeling. Ain't life grand ... NOT!

I guess maybe I jinxed it. The picture says it all ...


Tuesday, December 11, 2007

New Travel Slogan ...BYOG

Trust me, you don't want to know. But you need to know.
You need to watch this video about what might be happening in your hotel room.

And if that's happening, it really has to make you wonder what else is or is not going on. New travel slogan ... BYOG

H/T to doorkeeper and Tera

The End of The Line, Part II

Part II, because we finally did it.
A week later than planned but, hey, why rush through life, right?

No, seriously, the Blue Jay was just so irritable and out-of-sorts last weekend that we decided to wait another week. And so we did. And here we are. So for anybody wondering what the heck I am talking about, it goes something like this.

The Blue Jay, you see, has epilepsy. Has for a very long time, like the past 13 years. And its been a very long, very rough ride for the most part. When 11 seizure meds failed to even touch her seizures (and only gave us some nasty unwanted side-effects) we finally tried the ketogenic diet in 1997. It was truly a miracle, a gift from God, as the Blue Jay went seizure free for the first time since the nightmare began.

We had a good run there, of almost 2 years. Ran into some problems, lost control. Regained it again and she went over a year and a half seizure free. Another miracle. Then we lost control again and at that point she started really fighting the diet again. She had fought it hard in the beginning, resulting in nine months of hell, but we had struggled through through that. The second time around, when it no longer seemed to be working for us after six long years, we decided it was time to move on.

Although I should say that I am and always will be eternally grateful for the keto diet. It was the first and only thing that ever gave the Blue Jay (and by extension, us) relief from the seizures. It was more than worth the work, the time and the effort that went into it. Unfortunately, the diet tends to get a short shrift sometimes in medical circles. Its undeserved. Although its must easier to 'pop a pill', many times those pills don't work. And when they don't, the ketogenic diet can be your own private miracle. The best way I know of to describe it is as a gift from God. And we will never forget that.

But move on, we did. And we found that first (and only) seizure med that has ever worked for her. Her seizure disorder is very unusual in that she can go up to six months without a one, but once she starts they cluster and she ends up in the hospital for 10 days to two weeks. During which time we can have 40 (a good bout) to 80 (a bad bout) seizures. Accompanied by some lovely regression in her skills. And a week of wild craziness once the seizures are done. Not too pleasant for any of us, let alone her.

But we have a good run with this last drug. Not a sentence I thought I would ever find myself even thinking, let alone saying or typing. So after two years without even a single seizure and two and a half years without a hospitalization, the decision was made to wean the drug. Slowly. Very slowly. Its taken three and a half months but she is now off all seizure meds.

Hence, the end of the line.

Which is a little exciting. And a lot scary. Given her history, we will have to wait quite a while before we can make any pronouncements as to those nasties being done and gone. And truly, with epilepsy, I am not sure that you can ever really say that. So here we sit with our fingers, toes, and eyes crossed. And asking all our friends to pray. While we wait.

But now... For now. It feels kind of good. Like the end of the line might just be a good thing. Maybe.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Cookies For Cancer

A little boy diagnosed with a rare type of cancer, neuroblastoma. A type of cancer for which very little research has been done. A family struggling to change that. By coming up with a sweet gift for the holidays.
We, along with a volunteer army, will bake and sell 8,000 dozen gourmet cookies (96,000 cookies in total) beginning November 16th and ending December 14th. The delicious recipes are from renowned cookbook author and dear friend, Sally Sampson’s recently released cookbook, Cookies. The cookies will be sold for $30 a dozen and all of the proceeds will go directly to research at MSKCC since almost everything related to the project has been generously donated.
Please. Check it out. A very worthy cause.

H/T to Absolutely True for the link


The old man sat in his gas station on a cold Christmas Eve. He hadn't been anywhere in years since his wife had passed away. He had no decorations, no tree, no lights. It was just another day to him. He didn't hate Christmas, just couldn't find a reason to celebrate. There were no children in his life. His wife had gone.

He was sitting there looking at the snow that had been falling for the last hour and wondering what it was all about when the door opened and a homeless man stepped through. Instead of throwing the man out, George, Old George as he was known by his customers, told the man to come and sit by the space heater and warm up.

'Thank you, but I don't mean to intrude,' said the stranger. 'I see you're busy. I'll just go'

'Not without something hot in your belly,' George turned and opened a wide mouth Thermos and handed it to the stranger. 'It ain't much, but it's hot and tasty. Stew. Made it myself. When you're done there's coffee and it's fresh.'

Just at that moment he heard the 'ding' of the driveway bell. 'Excuse me, be right back,' George said.

There in the driveway was an old 53 Chevy. Steam was rolling out of the front. The driver was panicked.

'Mister can you help me!' said the driver with a deep Spanish accent. 'My wife is with child and my car is broken.'

George opened the hood. It was bad. The block looked cracked from the cold; the car was dead. 'You ain't going in this thing,' George said as he turned away.

'But mister. Please help....'The door of the office closed behind George as he went in. George went to the office wall and got the keys to his old truck, and went back outside. He walked around the building and opened the garage, started the truck and drove it around to where the couple was waiting.

'Here, you can borrow my truck,' he said. 'She ain't the best thing you ever looked at, but she runs real good.'

George helped put the woman in the truck and watched as it sped off into the night. George turned and walked back inside the office.

'Glad I loaned 'em the truck. Their tires were shot too. That 'ol truck has brand new tires........' George thought he was talking to the stranger, but the man had gone. The thermos was on the desk, empty with a used coffee cup beside it.

'Well, at least he got something in his belly,' George thought. George went back outside to see if the old Chevy would start. It cranked slowly, but it started. He pulled it into the garage where the truck had been. He thought he would tinker with it for something to do. Christmas Eve meant no customers. He discovered the block hadn't cracked, it was just the bottom hose on the radiator.

'Well, I can fix this,' he said to himself. So he put a new one on. 'Those tires ain't gonna get 'em through the winter either.' He took the snow treads off of his wife's old Lincoln. They were like new and he wasn't going to drive the car.

As he was working he heard a shot being fired. He ran outside and beside a police car an officer lay on the cold ground. Bleeding from the left shoulder, the officer moaned, 'Help me.' George helped the officer inside as he remembered the training he had received in the Army as a medic. He knew the wound needed attention.

'Pressure to stop the bleeding,' he thought. The laundry company had been there that morning and had left clean shop towels. He used those and duct tape to bind the wound.

'Hey, they say duct tape can fix anythin',' he said, trying to make the policeman feel at ease. 'Something for pain,' George thought. All he had was the pills he used for his back. 'These ought to work.' He put some water in a cup and gave the policeman the pills.

'You hang in there. I'm going to get you an ambulance.' George said, but the phone was dead. 'Maybe I can get one of your buddies on that there talk box out in your police car.'

He went out only to find that a bullet had gone into the dashboard destroying the two way radio. He went back in to find the policeman sitting up.

'Thanks,' said the officer. 'You could have left me there. The guy that shot me is still in the area.'

George sat down beside him. 'I would never leave an injured man in the Army and I ain't gonna leave you.' George pulled back the bandage to check for bleeding. 'Looks worse than what it is. Bullet passed right through 'ya. Good thing it missed the important stuff though. I think with time you're gonna be right as rain.'

George got up and poured a cup of coffee. 'How do you take it?' he asked.

'None for me,' said the officer.

'Oh, yer gonna drink this. Best in the city.' Then George added: 'Too bad I ain't got no donuts.'

The officer laughed and winced at the same time. The front door of the office flew open. In burst a young man with a gun.

'Give me all your cash! Do it now!' the young man yelled. His hand was shaking and George could tell that he had never done anything like this before.

'That's the guy that shot me!' exclaimed the officer.

'Son, why are you doing this?' asked George. 'You need to put the cannon away. Somebody else might get hurt.'

The young man was confused. 'Shut up old man, or I'll shoot you, too. now give me the cash!' The cop was reaching for his gun.

'Put that thing away,' George said to the cop. 'We got one too many in here now.'

He turned his attention to the young man. 'Son, it's Christmas Eve. If you need the money, well then, here. It ain't much but it's all I got. Now put that pee shooter away.'

George pulled $150 out of his pocket and handed it to the young man, reaching for the barrel of the gun at the same time. The young man released his grip on the gun, fell to his knees and began to cry.

'I'm not very good at this am I? All I wanted was to buy something for my wife and son,' he went on. 'I've lost my job. My rent is due. My car got repossessed last week...'

George handed the gun to the cop. 'Son, we all get in a bit of squeeze now and then. The road gets hard sometimes, but we make it through the best we can.'

He got the young man to his feet, and sat him down on a chair across from the cop. 'Sometimes we do stupid things.' George handed the young man a cup of coffee. 'Being stupid is one of the things that makes us human.Comin' in here with a gun ain't the answer. Now sit there and get warm and we'll sort this thing out.'

The young man had stopped crying. He looked over to the cop. 'Sorry I shot you. It just went off. I'm sorry officer.'

'Shut up and drink your coffee.' the cop said.

George could hear the sounds of sirens outside. A police car and an ambulance skidded to a halt. Two cops came through the door, guns drawn.

'Chuck! You ok?' one of the cops asked the wounded officer.

'Not bad for a guy who took a bullet. How did you find me?'

'GPS locator in the car. Best thing since sliced bread. Who did this?' the other cop asked as he approached the young man.

Chuck answered him, 'I don't know. The guy ran off into the dark. Just dropped his gun and ran.'

George and the young man both looked puzzled at each other. 'That guy works here,' the wounded cop continued.

'Yep,' George said. 'Just hired him this morning. Boy lost his job.'

The paramedics came in and loaded Chuck onto the stretcher. The young man leaned over the wounded cop and whispered, 'Why?'

Chuck just said, 'Merry Christmas, boy. And you too, George, and thanks for everything.'

'Well, looks like you got one doozy of a break there. That ought to solve some of your problems.' George went into the back room and came out with a box. He pulled out a ring box.

'Here you go. Something for the little woman. I don't think Martha would mind. She said it would come in handy some day.'

The young man looked inside to see the biggest diamond ring he ever saw. 'I can't take this,' said the young man. 'It means something to you.'

'And now it means something to you,' replied George. 'I got my memories. That's all I need.'

George reached into the box again. A toy airplane, a racing car and a little metal truck appeared next. They were toys that the oil company had left for him to sell. 'Here's something for that little man of yours.'

The young man began to cry again as he handed back the $150 that the old man had handed him earlier. 'And what are you supposed to buy Christmas dinner with? You keep that, too. Count it as part of your first week's pay.' George said. 'Now git home to your family.'

The young man turned with tears streaming down his face. 'I'll be here in the morning for work, if that job offer is still good.'

'Nope. I'm closed Christmas day,' George said. 'See ya the day after.'

George turned around to find that the stranger had returned. 'Where'd you come from? I thought you left?'

'I have been here. I have always been here,'
said the stranger. 'You say you don't celebrate Christmas. Why?'

'Well, after my wife passed away I just couldn't see what all the bother was. Puttin' up a tree and all seemed a waste of a good pine tree. Bakin' cookies like I used to with Martha just wasn't the same by myself and besides I was getting a little chubby.'

The stranger put his hand on George's shoulder. 'But you do celebrate the holiday, George. You gave me food and drink and warmed me when I was cold and hungry. The woman with child will bear a son and he will become a great doctor.

The policeman you helped will go on to save 19 people from being killed by terrorists. The young man who tried to rob you will become a rich man and share his wealth with many people.

That is the spirit of the season and you keep it as good as any man
.'

George was taken aback by all this stranger had said. 'And how do you know all this?' asked the old man.

'Trust me, George. I have the inside track on this sort of thing. And when your days are done you will be with Martha again.' The stranger moved toward the door.

'If you will excuse me, George, I have to go now. I have to go home where there is a big celebration planned.'

George watched as the man's old leather jacket and his torn pants turned into a white robe. A golden light began to fill the room.

'You see, George, it's My birthday. Merry Christmas.'

- Author Unknown

H/T to Dar

Wake Up The Politician ... He's Freezing Out There

This headline was on the front page of yesterday's edition of the Daily News.
'We only have one Earth'
Environmental activists in Halifax and around the world send wake-up call to politicians'

But what I can't find online to show you are the two pictures right underneath that headline in the print edition. The first once shows a man laying on a bed with a sign at the foot of the bed ... "WAKE UP THE Politician"

In the next picture the man is shown half sitting up in bed holding a sign that reads "CHANGE is POSSIBLE".

So here's the thing. The bed looks to be either outside or right near some windows. Other people standing around in the picture are wearing winter coats. And when our 'politician' sits up in bed, he too is wearing a winter coat.

Yeah. Its winter time. In Halifax. Nova Scotia. Canada. Cold and snow. I know you can't see the pictures, but can anybody see the irony here?

And no, I'm not saying that there's nothing to the whole concept of global warming, perhaps more accurately termed 'climate change'. But I think the jury is still out on just how much of an issue it really is going to be in the big picture of time, how much we are responsible for it and what we can actually do about it. Sure, we've screwed up with the earth and there are lots of things we need to do better. That's important.

But I do think that some do tend to get a little carried away. A little over the top.

Global warming in Canada. Could be a good thing. As long as Nova Scotia doesn't go below sea level, of course.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

What Are You Watching?

Me? The Hunt for Red October.

Great movie. I've watched it a few times actually.
When it first came out in theatres, but back then it didn't do so much for me. Then many, many years later. After reading the book.

Oh, yeah. The book.
I do so enjoy those Jack Ryan books. Then again, John Clark ain't no slouch either. In fact, Without Remorse is my favourite book in the series. It was suppose to be made into movie, too. Well, you know what they say ... Seeing is believing. And Hope Springs Eternal.

Anyway, this time, the movie is even better. I think its because I've developed ... ahem ... just a bit of an interest in naval aviation since the last time I watched it. Yeah, I know. I'm working on my understatement skills, can't you tell?

Suddenly a lot of it makes a lot more sense. Maybe not as good as Lex but a girl's got to take what she can get. Hey, can anyone picture Rhythms as a movie? But I digress.

Hunt for Red October. Great movie.

Great quotes.

"Ryan, some things in here don't react well to bullets." Yeah, like me. I don't react well to bullets.

The hard part about playing chicken is knowin' when to flinch.

Central Intelligence Agency... Now, there's a contradiction in terms.

[to himself, just before being lowered off a helicopter]
Jack Ryan: Next time, Jack, write a goddamn memo.

Heh.

I guess I will have to go back and reread all the books now. When I first started reading them, it was haphazard. In no particular order, just whenever I could find them. But now that I have my own personal collection, I can start over. At the beginning. Yeah, that's the ticket.

Funny thing, though. Interest in naval aviation notwithstanding, I really have no desire to go anywhere in a submarine. Would kill to get chance to check out the flight deck, take me up in a F-18 (please), really want to do that whole sky diving thing. But down there, in a sub ... nah, not so much.

Let's Hear It For The Blue Angels

Some really incredible plane pron here.

A definite must see.



Oh yeah!

H/T to Peter Gunn through Neptunus Lex for the link

Hey 'Retard'

DO NOT get me going on the use of the word 'retard' ...
Are you a retard or something?! Move away from USA before it blows up (that is going to happen if you keep pissing of everybody, specially islam-freaks).
What is it with the cyberworld and those who simply cannot function without calling into question someone else's intelligence? There are few things that piss me off more than that kind of crap. Because it just shows how much people just don't get it. And couldn't care less.

So here's to all the true 'retards' out there. Yes, that would be you. The clueless ones. I am lucky enough to know many, many challenged people with way more intelligence, class, character and compassion in their little fingers than you appear to exhibit in your whole larger-than-life incredibly gigantic brains.

But I would love the opportunity to discuss it with you further. Just as soon as you find your brain. Wherever you left it.

Who's Afraid of the Big Bad Taser?

As a follow up to the Russian Roulette post, from the serious to the absurd.

From Not A Lawyer:
Donnell Williams was in his own home, and had been bathing. He is a hearing impaired man.

So, there Mr. Williams was, in a towel and without his hearing aid when police barged into his home and Tased him. /p>

Someone had falsely reported a shooting at his residence, so the cops forced their way into his home. When they began shouting orders at him, without his hearing aid he couldn’t hear them. As a result they shot him with the Taser gun.

When they realized their mistake, they apologized to Mr. Williams.
For once, I'm about as close to speechless as you will probably ever find me.

Okay, I think I've recovered...
As nutty as this is, I can only partially blame the individual officers. It goes back to what I have said before, namely, that the police need better training. I mentioned mental health issues previously and apparently I'm not the only who feels that way.

Although the executive director of the Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia welcomes the recently-called "ministerial review of conductive energy devise (Taser) use and policies" in this jurisdiction [fancy government-speak for a review of the police use of tasers] which was called following the death of a 45-year-old man 30 hours after officers used a stun gun to subdue him, he is encouraging demanding that the panel include expert representatives with mental illness.

And the sister of this latest victim might be forgiven for being somewhat skeptical of the investigation. She refers to it as "a diversion from the real question."

"I'm wondering if the Department of Justice is trying to get attention onto the Tasers to take away from attention on the judge, who made the decision to return my brother to the correctional centre (rather than sending him to a hospital)," she said.

As an aside, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police are also conducting a formal review of this same incident, which they won't release until medical examiners finalize their report. That report could take between four to six months.

Because you see, that's one thing us Canadians are good at ... reviews, enquiries, studies and reports. Nero fiddles while Rome burns perhaps?

In addition to issues surrounding mental illness, as the story of the deaf scantily-clad Mr. Williams and this tale of a taser being used on a mentally handicapped young woman only too well point out, the fact is that the police in many jurisdictions need training around recognizing and dealing with individuals with all types of disabilities.

Back to the deaf Mr. Williams. Even though we don’t know how hectic and chaotic things were at the moment that the decision was made to use the taser, you would think that the police at least would have heard the poor man screaming that he couldn't hear them.

Then again, on the other hand, deaf or not, Mr. Williams might have had the sense to put his hands up in that type of situation, no? Even if it meant losing his towel ...

Its moments like this that I have to remind myself about what I really think ...
  • we have to sit back and let those enquiries do their work
  • what needs to be happen is a weighing and balancing exercise which can only occur after all the evidence is gathered and all the stakeholders heard from and
  • we really need to be wary of jumping to quick, relatively 'easy' conclusions.

Other than that, don't ask me, I only work here.

H/T to Not A Lawyer and the SSNS


Update: When you're right, you're right...



Saturday, December 8, 2007

Who says Monopoly Money Is Good For Nothing

I came across this rather cool story the other day.

About how during World War II, that classic board game Monopoly came equipped with real-life "get out of jail free" cards for Allied POWs.
During World War II, the British secret service hatched a master plan to smuggle escape gear to captured Allied soldiers inside Germany. Their secret weapon? Monopoly boxes.

The original notion was simple enough: Find a way to sneak useful items into prison camps in an unassuming form. But the idea to use Monopoly came from a series of happy coincidences, all of which started with maps.
Paper not being the most suitable source for maps in these circumstances (due to its propensity to fall apart when it gets wet and the noise it makes when being folded and unfolded), the British decided to make escape maps out of silk. And place them in 'special edition' Monopoly games which were distributed in Red Cross aid packages to the prisoners.

But the maps weren't the only things that made this edition special.
Along with the standard thimble, car, and Scotty dog, the POW version included additional "playing" pieces, such as a metal file, a magnetic compass, and of course, a regional silk escape map, complete with marked safe-houses along the way -- all neatly concealed in the game's box.

Even better, some of the Monopoly money was real. Actual German, Italian, and French currency was placed underneath the play money for escapees to use for bribes.
By the end of the war, it's estimated that more than 35,000 Allied POWs had escaped from German prison camps. And more than a few of them would have owed their freedom to the classic board game.

So why haven't we heard about this before?

Apparently strict secrecy about the plan was maintained not only during the war (so that the British could continue using the game to help POWs and because the manufacturer feared a targeted reprisal by German bombers) but also afterwards, when all remaining sets were destroyed and everyone involved in the plan, including the escaped prisoners, were told to keep quiet. It was hoped that, in the event of another large-scale war, the seemingly innocent board game could return to action.

Now that the cat is out of the bag box, I, for one, will never look at a Monopoly game quite the same way again. Kind of makes you wonder what games are being played now that we're unaware of, doesn't it?

Friday, December 7, 2007

What I Want To Know

What I want to know is why we don't have something like this in Canada. So simple. So easy. Such a great idea. So why not?

The phone lines are now open. Please call in with your thoughts.

H/T to Take Five for the link

May She Rest In Peace, May He Find Mercy

Robert Latimer was denied day parole this week. In 1994 he was convicted of second-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison with no chance of parole for 10 years.

In 1993 (the year my daughter with special needs was born), Latimer placed his 12-year-old daughter, Tracy, in the cab of his pickup truck and piped in exhaust gas.

Before you rush to condemn him (the natural response and the one you will likely have even after reading the rest of this story), let me tell you a little bit more about this father and daughter.
Tracy was born with cerebral palsy and possessed the mental capacity of a three-month-old child. She could not speak and was entirely dependent on her parents and needed round-the-clock care.
Latimer’s voice broke as he described the four surgeries his daughter had already had and the fifth one that was being proposed.
One of the surgeries was to remove a quarter of Tracy’s femur because one of her hips had been dislocated for more than a year.
Because of the anti-seizure medication she was on, the Latimer family was told the only pain relief she could have would be regular strength Tylenol.
He said he and his wife were opposed to another surgery.
"We saw it as mutilating a child who was already suffering."
At the time of her death, Tracy weighed less than 40 pounds.
Latimer told the board the killing was not a snap decision and came after his wife said they would have to call in Dr. Jack Kevorkian, an American who helped people commit suicide.
He said the two never discussed his decision to kill Tracy and his wife didn’t find out how her daughter died until the autopsy.
No excuses, say you. How dare he play judge, jury and executioner on anybody's life, let alone his own defenseless and totally vulnerable child's?

Let me give you my take on this sad, sad story.

Tracy Latimer was a real person. A child who deserved to be protected, cared for and loved as only a parent can do. And I believe that she was.

The original story is 14 years old. And raises many, many issues. I followed it very closely from the fateful day in 1993, through Latimer's trial and appeals until his conviction was upheld by the Supreme Court of Canada in 2001. I, like many Canadians and people from around the world, felt that I had a particular stake in it. My child, too, lives in the world of disability.

I thank God daily that the Blue Jay's (pet blog name) challenges come nowhere near those that Tracy and her family lived with. But I well know the challenges faced by our family and many, many others. On a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly basis as we struggle to meet our children's basic needs. Then to meet their often numerous and complex medical needs. To access services to make their lives and the other family members lives better. To have them accepted and valued in the community. To do all that while holding down a job and trying to provide a "normal" a life as possible for their siblings. And for ourselves.

That I know a fair bit about. Both personally and through the relationships I have developed with others in this community. Yes, I have been to Holland. I have seen its beauty and known its heartache. I believe I know a fair amount of what I speak.

I also know that my position on this issue isn't popular. That many will and do disagree with me. Including many (if not most) in the disability community.

I have spent many hours thinking about Tracy Latimer. And her mom and dad.

And here is what I know.

I know that Tracy was in near daily pain. Considerable pain. That, for medical reasons, her family was powerless to relieve.

I know that she had underwent four surgeries in the twelve years of her life and was scheduled for a fifth one. One that her parents disagreed with.

I know that at Latimer's second trial, the jury recommended he be eligible for parole after a year, even though the minimum sentence for second-degree murder is 25 years with no chance of parole for 10 years.

I know that the court granted Latimer a constitutional exemption from the minimum sentence for second-degree murder, explaining that, for Latimer, the minimum sentence would constitute "cruel and unusual punishment."

I know that the judge called Tracy Latimer's murder a "rare act of homicide that was committed for caring and altruistic reasons". And he went on to state that "That is why for want of a better term this is called compassionate homicide."

I know that despite this, the Saskatchewan Court of Appeal overturned Noble's ruling, imposing the mandatory minimum sentence: 25 years, with no parole before 10 years.

I know that unusual as the Latimer case is, there are related cases, such as battered women who have killed their batterers – often their husbands – and received leniency from the courts.

I know that special legislation is being considered for victims who kill their oppressors, based on self-defence.

Here is what I believe.

  • That Mr. Latimer was motivated by the best of intentions.
  • That he wasn't simply wanting to remove a 'burden' that he found too much to bear from his life and that of his wife.
  • That he wasn't judging Tracy's life as being of less value by virtue of her disability.
  • That he likely made the hardest, most horrific decision that he ever had to make in his life. And that decision was motivated by the depth of his love for his child.
  • That he suffers for that every single day. Not in the sense of being 'sorry' or 'remorseful' for his actions as the parole board requires him to be, but in the sense that although he believes completely and knows in his heart that he did the 'right' thing for his child, he has to live with fact that he took his child's life. That doing the 'right thing' for this child required him to kill her. And that must cause him amazing agony every single day.
  • That nothing 'we' can say or do to him can really affect him. Not where it counts. Deep in his heart.
  • There are two old legal maxims that come to mind. Combine them and they state what I believe occurred here, from a legal point of view. "Hard cases and bad facts both make bad law."

I know many have no compassion for Latimer.

Many would say that his actions threaten the safety, value and sanctity of the lives of individuals with disabilities. That it leaves the door open for 'well-meaning' individuals to put a value judgment on other people's lives. And even worse, that it makes it even easier for some to see our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, sons and daughters as being only a drain on society and expendable for the greater good.

I don't see it that way. His child was in constant pain. With no relief in sight. I believe that that is what motivated his actions. As horrible as they were. Just as bad facts made bad law, so too bad situations can sometimes make for horrific choices. I can only feel pity. And empathy. For Tracy. For her mom. And, yes, for her father too.

And for those who only want to rant and wail against Latimer, I say this ... if you want to honour Tracy and her memory, put even a quarter of that energy where it will do some good.

Put it into lobbying your governments for better services for individuals with disabilities and their families.

Put it into promoting compassion and understanding in your community when it comes to the disabled.

Put it into lobbying your governments for better services for individuals with disabilities and their families.

Take some of that energy and call up a family you know in your community and ask if there is anything you can do to help. Run an errand? Do some housecleaning? Offer a drive to a medical appointment? Spend some time with challenged person so as to give their caretaker a much needed break? Or spend some special time with one of the siblings?

One of the nicest things someone ever did for us came from a mom who volunteered at my children's school. She asked if she could just spend some time, do some activities with a child who needed that little bit of extra attention. She was very gifted artistically and that relationship meant so much to my youngest, who felt like she was playing second fiddle to the needs of our oldest.

If you don't personally know of such a family, call up a local disability organization and ask if you can volunteer? Or if they know of a family who would appreciate some assistance.

Did I mention putting some energy into lobbying your governments for better services for individuals with disabilities and their families?

I sincerely hope some compassion and understanding will be shown, that justice will prevail and Mr. Latimer will be soon be released. To return to his home and community, where, if I recall correctly, he enjoys widespread support. To return to his wife, who continues to remain steadfast at his side. To grieve privately for his daughter. As he is entitled to.

~ I apologize for the length of this post. It was a situation that touched me at the time. And, obviously, still does. ~

Update: I mentioned above that many in the disability community feared that Latimer's actions threatened the safety, value and sanctity of the lives of individuals with disabilities. Although somewhat dated, here is a good example of that reasoning.

May We Never Forget

Yesterday was a date of anniversaries.
Unfortunately, not the good kind.

The Halifax Explosion.

And 14 women shot and killed at Montreal's École Polytechnique. Just because. They were woman.

May we never forget.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

What I Have Done or What Have I Done

A lengthy list, no doubt about it. Mine are in bold/italics.
And I have decided that I definitely have not done enough. Yet.

Just what I need, another To Do List!

01. Bought everyone in the bar a drink
02. Swam with wild dolphins
03. Climbed a mountain
04. Taken a Ferrari for a test drive
05. Been inside the Great Pyramid
06. Held a tarantula
07. Taken a candlelit bath with someone
08. Said “I love you” and meant it
09. Hugged a tree (I was definitely drunk...)
10. Bungee jumped (nope and no desire to, thank you very much)
11. Visited Paris (ah, Paris in the springtime .... Okay, fine. In the summertime then.)
12. Watched a lightning storm.
13. Stayed up all night long and saw the sun rise
14. Seen the Northern Lights
15. Gone to a huge sports game
16. Walked the stairs to the top of the leaning Tower of Pisa
17. Grown and eaten your own vegetables
18. Touched an iceberg
19. Slept under the stars
20. Changed a baby’s diaper (Too. Many. Diapers.)
21. Taken a trip in a hot air balloon (now that's one I do want to do)
22. Watched a meteor shower (how come I never get to see them??)
23. Gotten drunk on champagne (does the cheap kind count?)
24. Given more than you can afford to charity
25. Looked up at the night sky through a telescope
26. Had an uncontrollable giggling fit at the worst possible moment
27. Had a food fight
28. Bet on a winning horse
29. Asked out a stranger (definitely drunk. Again)
30. Had a snowball fight
31. Screamed as loudly as you possibly can (many, many times)
32. Held a lamb
33. Seen a total eclipse
34. Ridden a roller coaster (Hate. All. Roller coasters.)
35. Hit a home run
36. Danced like a fool and didn’t care who was looking
37. Adopted an accent for an entire day
38. Actually felt happy about your life, even for just a moment
39. Had two hard drives for your computer
40. Visited all 50 states
41. Taken care of someone who was drunk
42. Had amazing friends (Still do!)
43. Danced with a stranger in a foreign country (and danced and danced)
44. Watched whales
45. Stolen a sign (stop sign. In college.)
46. Backpacked in Europe (tres cool!)
47. Taken a road-trip
48. Gone rock climbing
49. Midnight walk on the beach
50. Gone sky diving (please, please, please. Soon, soon, soon. My time will come.)
51. Visited Ireland
52. Been heartbroken longer than you were actually in love
53. In a restaurant, sat at a stranger’s table and had a meal with them
54. Visited Japan
55. Milked a cow
56. Alphabetized your CDs
57. Pretended to be a superhero
58. Sung karaoke
59. Lounged around in bed all day
60. Played touch football (with the dog!)
61. Gone scuba diving
62. Kissed in the rain
63. Played in the mud
64. Played in the rain
65. Gone to a drive-in theater
66. Visited the Great Wall of China
67. Started a business
68. Fallen in love and not had your heart broken
69. Toured ancient sites (Rome, Athens, Florence...)
70. Taken a martial arts class
71. Played D&D for more than 6 hours straight
72. Gotten married
73. Been in a movie
74. Crashed a party
75. Gotten divorced
76. Gone without food for 5 days (yeah, right)
77. Made cookies from scratch
78. Won first prize in a costume contest (when I was 12 years old)
79. Ridden a gondola in Venice
80. Gotten a tattoo
81. Rafted the Snake River
82. Been on television news programs as an “expert”
83. Gotten flowers for no reason
84. Performed on stage
85. Been to Las Vegas
86. Recorded music
87. Eaten shark
88. Kissed on the first date (What? You mean we're not supposed to??!!)
89. Gone to Thailand
90. Bought a house
91. Been in a combat zone
92. Buried one/both of your parents (one is enough, thanks)
93. Been on a cruise ship (world's smallest)
94. Spoken more than one language fluently
95. Performed in Rocky Horror
96. Raised children (as in raising children)
97. Followed your favorite band/singer on tour
98. Passed out cold ... too many times to count
99. Taken an exotic bicycle tour in a foreign country
100. Picked up and moved to another city to just start over(if moving to start university counts)
101. Walked the Golden Gate Bridge
102. Sang loudly in the car, and didn’t stop when you knew someone was looking
103. Had plastic surgery
104. Survived an accident that you shouldn’t have survived
105. Wrote articles for a large publication
106. Lost over 100 pounds
107. Held someone while they were having a flashback
108. Piloted an airplane
109. Touched a stingray
110. Broken someone’s heart
111. Helped an animal give birth
112. Won money on a T.V. game show
113. Broken a bone
114. Gone on an African photo safari
115. Had a facial part pierced other than your ears
116. Fired a rifle, shotgun, or pistol
117. Eaten mushrooms that were gathered in the wild
118. Ridden a horse
119. Had major surgery
120. Had a snake as a pet
121. Hiked to the bottom of the Grand Canyon
122. Slept for more than 30 hours over the course of 48 hours
123. Visited more foreign countries than U.S. states (Heh, I kind of have an advantage there)
124. Visited all 7 continents
125. Taken a canoe trip that lasted more than 2 days
126. Eaten kangaroo meat
127. Eaten sushi
128. Had your picture in the newspaper (I'm famous, I tell ya!)
129. Changed someone’s mind about something you care deeply about
130. Gone back to school
131. Parasailed
132. Touched a cockroach
133. Eaten fried green tomatoes
134. Read The Iliad - and the Odyssey
135. Selected one “important” author who you missed in school, and read
136. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
137. Skipped all your school reunions
138. Communicated with someone without sharing a common spoken language (again, numerous times)
139. Been elected to public office
140. Written your own computer language
141. Thought to yourself that you’re living your dream
142. Had to put someone you love into hospice care
143. Built your own PC from parts
144. Sold your own artwork to someone who didn’t know you
145. Had a booth at a street fair
146. Dyed your hair
147. Been a DJ
148. Shaved your head
149. Caused a car accident (haven't we all at one time or another?)
150. Saved someone’s life
151. Visited more foreign countries than Canadian provinces (Yeah, so, I get around. What's your point?)
152. Been to a kitchen party
153. Watched the RCMP Musical Ride
154. Buried yourself completely in a snowbank
155. Been to the top of the CN Tower

H/T to Reflections by Kris and yes, I cop to adding a few