Sunday, March 30, 2008


I came to a realization the other day. If I don't stop and think about it, if I quite simply don't have the time to stop and think about it ... then I can't possibly be stressed. I was driving to work on Friday when this thought suddenly struck me. Kind of a variation of 'outta sight, outta mind', I suppose. No time, don't think about it ... ergo, it just ain't so.

Mom is the hospital. She went in Tuesday and I really have no idea at all how long she will be there. Then again, neither do the doctors. First, they will have to figure out what the heck is wrong. And at the rate that's going, she may just be there awhile.

It seems so unfair. Yes, I realize nobody ever said that life was fair. But after going through such a rough time, it was really like a miracle when things got so much better for her. And now this. Add in the fact that we really don't know whether this is some relatively simple thing they will figure out or if it will turn out to be something more serious ... nope, not fair. I suppose I could try to look at it that at least we had a good few weeks.

I felt bad for the Blue Jay yesterday. I convinced her sister to ask her to go for a walk so I could get her birthday presents wrapped before the party. They weren't gone very long before I heard the Blue Jay come in the door sounding rather upset. Apparently they hadn't went much more than 20 feet before she started saying that she was scared. Scared to go for a walk. That the man would come back. Her sister tried to calm her down, convince her that it was okay and keep her walking but that didn't work too well. The poor kid loves to walk so I do feel bad for her. Of course, on the other hand, it's not like I really want her walking very much anymore either.

Yup, it was the Blue Jay's birthday. Hard to believe she is now ... 15!!

15 and 12 ... is it any wonder I feel stressed?!

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Girls In My Circle

When I was little,
I used to believe in the concept of one best friend,
and then I started to become a woman.
And then I found out that if you allow your heart to open up,
You will be shown the best, in many friends.

One friend is needed when you're going through things with your partner.
Another friend is needed when you're going through things with your parents.
Another will sit beside you in the bleachers as you delight in your children and their activities.
Another when you want to shop, share, heal, hurt, joke,
or just be.

One friend will say, "Let's cry together,"
another, "Let's fight together,"
another, "Let's walk away together."
One friend will meet your spiritual need,
another your shoe fetish,
another will be with you in your season of confusion,
another will be your clarifier,
another the wind beneath your wings.

But whatever their assignment in your life,
on whatever the occasion,
on whatever the day,
or wherever you need them to meet you with their gym shoes on and hair pulled back,
or to hold you back from making a complete fool of yourself ....
those are your best friends.

It may all be wrapped up in one woman,
but for many, it's wrapped up in several...
one from 6th grade,
one from high school,
some from the college years,
a couple from old jobs,
on some days your mother,
on some days your neighbor,
on others, your sisters, cousins,
and on some days, your daughters.

This was sent to my by a very special friend and it struck me that there's an awful lot of truth in it. It also made me think, not 'just' of my woman friends, but that someone could easily write something similar for the friends they've met in blogging. Not me, of course. I'm not that talented. But the thought is there.

So here's to all my woman friends. And my blogging friends. Cheers.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Kudos for Casey

Brenda Martin.

A Canadian woman who has been imprisoned in Mexico for the past two years on charges of fraud. Without a trial. I watched a W-5 piece on her story about a month ago. It was interesting. Revealing. And sad. You can find the full story of what led to her imprisonment here.

And a shorter version here.
Ms. Martin, 51, of Trenton, Ont., is in the Puente Grande women’s prison, having been detained by Mexican authorities in February 2006 for alleged involvement in a $60-million pyramid investment scheme involving 15,000 people in dozens of countries.

According to The Canadian Press, she insists she was a chef and not an accomplice, and her former boss, Alyn Waage — who was convicted in the case and is serving time in California — also says she wasn’t involved.

And her Toronto lawyer says she wasn’t given a proper translator during the police investigation and legal process.
Now I have no idea whether she's actually guilty of these charges or not. Although it's interesting to note that her former boss, the alleged mastermind of this Internet-based fraud scheme, has stated that Mexican officials are using Martin as collateral for his unpaid debt. Alyn Waage said his lawyers struck a deal with Mexican officials the day after his arrest in 2001, when he agreed to pay $500,000 for his freedom. But he fled to Costa Rica when an appeals court released him on bail and was later apprehended extradited to a low-security federal prison in North Carolina, where he’s serving a 10-year sentence. At any rate, Waage claims Mexican officials are now holding Martin, and another former employee as "ransom" for his unpaid debt.

But the real problem I have is with Martin being held for the past two years in a three-metre by four-metre cell with 11 other women, some of whom are convicted murderers and drug dealers, in direct contravention of international human rights treaties to which both Canada and Mexico have agreed to. Being held for two years without any move to bring the matter to trial, where her guilt or innocence could actually be judged. Being held with only the minimum of contact with Canadian officials despite numerous pleas to Canadian Foreign Affairs by both Martin, her friends and family members.

Until now, that is.

In rides our knight on a white horse, an Independent MP from Nova Scotia, Bill Casey. Mr Casey recently distinguished himself by being one of the few only MPs to stand up to the federal government's bullying of Nova Scotia around the off-shore accord, resulting in him being kicked out of the Conservative cabinet. Now, on Ms. Martin's behalf, he not only sent a letter to Mexico’s ambassador to Canada, expressing his concern over her imprisonment and treatment over the past two years but has also suggested that Canadians boycott Mexico as a tourist destination.
"I respectfully request that the appropriate authorities . . . release Brenda Martin to Canada based on the fact that the punishment that she has already received . . . exceeds an appropriate penalty for the accusations against her, even if they were true," Mr. Casey wrote.

"If this case is not resolved soon, I consider it my responsibility to notify every single one of my constituents . . . that their safety is at risk in Mexico and that Mexico does not respond to Canadian attempts to seek justice on their behalf," he wrote.
And given the number of Canadian tourists killed in Mexico, including the botched handling by Mexican authorities of the murder of a Canadian couple last year, where two young Canadian women were hounded as suspects for a murder they essentially knew nothing about, stating that our "safety is at risk ... and that Mexico does not respond to Canadian attempts to seek justice on their behalf" doesn't really seem like that much of a stretch.

Apparently Mr. Casey, in an effort to recognize Ms. Martin's fears that a boycott by Canadian tourists might just result in angering Mexican authorities if the country starts losing money, has now stated that he is not advocating a tourist boycott at this time. However, he has made plans to meet with the Mexican ambassador next week to discuss Ms. Martin's case further. Which appears to be a hell of a lot more than her own MP or anyone else in the federal government has done on Martin's behalf.

To which I say, kudos to you Mr. Casey. It's refreshing to see a politician who stands up, not only for his home province and his own constituents, but for all Canadians.

Thank you, sir. Something tells me you will be rewarded in the next round of elections.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Prenatal Testing - The Good, The Bad And The Ugly

That promised post on prenatal testing is up now on the special needs blawg. Should anyone care to mosey over there and check it out.

And give serious consideration to signing to the petition for Canada to adopt a Prenatal Diagnosed Condition Awareness Act, of course.

It's not about pro-abortion
It's not about pro-life
Its about pro-humanity

Monday, March 24, 2008

Don't Hate Me Because I'm Beautiful

Hate me because I sent you this.
Let's hope for your sake you don't tend to be on the obsessive side.


Read the directions before you start....

You must hold the left mouse button down to go up...release to go down...MOST DIFFICULT Some people have worn their finger out on this. If you are working for a living, do not forward to your co-workers.The rest of the day will be useless to the company..

Click on the link and give it a whirl!

But don't worry. If and when that gets too stressful, you can always take a nice long relaxing walk on the beach. Feel the sand beneath your toes.

H/T to Mother of Shrek for that last link

Update: New personal record on the helo .... 2013!

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Mama Bear's Greatest Fear

What's your biggest fear as a parent?

The Blue Jay likes to walk. And walk. And walk. Particularly if she is annoyed at her mom for taking away both the computer and phone after she has been on both simultaneously for a mere .... three hours. So off she went. Usually she will tell me what direction she wants to go in and I will tell her how far she can go before she has to come home. But tonight she was determined to go in both directions. So I told her she could go one way but had to check in on her way back. Which she did. But when she came home from the second leg of the walk, all was not right with the world.

She was a bit frazzled and excited. Just not herself. "Whew! That was close!" When I asked her what was wrong, she told me about a car going by twice and honking. And then stopping in the church parking lot to talk to her. That the man asked her to go for a drive with him and be friends and she said "NO! You're a stranger!" and walked straight home.

Thank you, Lord.

Now I will admit that at first I wasn't sure what to think. It's the Blue Jay, you see. Which means that although she's a teenager, she isn't really. And although I didn't for one second think that she was making this up (she walks a lot and has never came home with such a story), I had to wonder if she had just misunderstood something. Was it a friend of her father's but she just hadn't recognized him? Or was this the real thing?

So I asked her a few more questions, trying to be careful not to ask anything leading. Although she's not as bad as she use to be when she was younger, she's still quite suggestible. When she was little if you asked her completely out of the blue if her knee hurt, for example, she would say yes. For the simple reason that you suggested it.

Perplexed, I told her to go tell her dad. Which she did, with a few more details. Blue car, man with a grey beard. He and I discussed it for a few minutes and eventually I phoned the police. But I still had trouble believing it was for real. That she wasn't somehow mistaken. We live in a village sandwiched between two towns in a rural area. And although there were 'incidents' a few years ago locally (someone in the Mall exposing themselves and asking a young boy to go with them), I certainly never expected to hear such a thing from one of my own children.

Anyway, an officer called us back and I explained the situation. He had me ask her a few questions about the vehicle and before telling me that he would check out the area and call me back, he advised me that they certainly had had other reports before and there were some 'sickos' out there. "Don't disbelieve your daughter". Meanwhile the Blue Jay had picked up some of my conversation with her dad and had been demanding that I 'call the cops' as this was serious. So I had to calm her down, tell her she did a great job and did the right thing and now the grown-ups would handle it and it wasn't her problem.

But in talking with her carefully a little bit more (asking her if she told the man her name, yes, he had asked so she told him her full name) and getting some more details of what he said (He said he wasn't that strange), I started to believe that it was the real thing. Although at first I thought maybe it was someone who knew her but she just didn't recognize, I remembered that this kid has a great memory for faces and knows more people than I do. She would have recognized someone if she had met them before. And someone who actually knew her wouldn't ask her to come for a drive with them when she was only thirty feet from home.

Only a few days ago I posted a comment on another blog about how hard it is to teach your child 'stranger danger' when you can't make them understand what a 'stranger' is. I have always secretly wondered and worried what the Blue Jay would do if faced with a situation. And prayed that if she was ever faced with it she would be with her sister or somebody else who would know what to do.

A little later, we had a visit from an officer who spoke with the Blue Jay and asked her some questions. During which she showed off some of her 'uniqueness'. And while he was here the first officer called back to see if she had told us any more details about the vehicle. But eventually all settled down and we got the kids off to bed.

And as happy, pleased, relieved and grateful I am that the Blue Jay knew what to do and actually did it, let me tell you this. When I hugged my two girls goodnight tonight, I was hit so hard in my gut. With fear. And anger. Just let one person ever lay a finger on either one of those kids ...

There will be HELL to pay. That's all.

Friday, March 21, 2008

Marriage Made In Hell

I really don't like to pick on one particular country. It rubs me the wrong way, no matter what the country. Probably because I hear what I perceive as enough of it elsewhere in the blogosphere.

But at the risk of being the pot calling the kettle black, let me continue. Sometimes you hear enough about one place that something clicks. It feels like you may just have reached critical mass. So with my apologies to my friends across the pond, let me explain.

I've heard some strange stories from the UK over the past year. As just a few examples, first there were the Muslim medical students who refused to attend lectures or answer exam questions on "alcohol-related or sexually transmitted diseases" because it offended their religious beliefs. A small number even refused to treat patients of the opposite sex. Okay. I guess that just went hand in hand with some U.K. stores permitting Muslim checkout operators to refuse to handle customers’ alcohol purchases on religious grounds.

Then last month, the Archbishop of Canterbury stated that the adoption of certain aspects of Sharia law in the UK seemed "unavoidable". Nice of him to note, I suppose, that "nobody in their right mind would want to see in this country the kind of inhumanity that's sometimes been associated with the practice of the law in some Islamic states; the extreme punishments, the attitudes to women as well".

But here's a new one for ya. You're likely aware that much of Canadian and American 'common law' [judge made law] comes from centuries of old English common law. Well, the only 'up side' I can see to this story is that some English judges appear to still have their heads about them.

Or at least, thank God, enough sense to set aside the "marriage" of a severely autistic man 26 year old man with the mental age of 3 year old to his Bangladeshi bride, whom he has never met. The Muslim wedding ceremony, it would seem, was conducted over the telephone.

Gee, too bad this young fellow didn't have his parents around to look out for him. What's that, you say? He did? In fact, it was his parents, originally from Bangladesh but now living in England, who found him his blushing bride. And argued in court that the marriage should be recognized in English law.

Me? I much prefer words of common sense.

But the Court of Appeal said IC was unable to give valid consent to marriage under English law and said it had been "potentially abusive".

- - -

The judge held that the marriage was "sufficiently offensive to the conscience of the English court that the court should refuse to recognise it and should refuse to give effect to the law of Bangladesh and sharia law".

So, what do you suppose that was all about? Apparently, the court was told the wedding was to allow the bride to obtain a visa and join her husband in Britain. Oh. Funny how it sorts of reminds me of that 'other' story, the one where the two women with Down's Syndrome were used as homicide suicide bombers last month.

At any rate, I found the last line in the "marriage from hell" story rather interesting. Now it's all starting to make a little more sense.
Recent calls from the Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams for Islamic law to be incorporated into the British legal system were met with demands for him to quit.

I would seriously like to know if my take on any of this is out of line. So any readers with more current or relevant info on all this, please set me straight.

With thanks to Neptunus Lex and Mother of Shrek for the links to the various links

You Show Me Yours ...

I guess I've been lucky. I've spent very little of my working life in a cubicle. Oh sure, I had one for about four months when I first started articling. Until the firm started to fall apart, many lawyers left and I wrangled my way into a suddenly empty office with a gorgeous view of the harbour from the 14th floor.

Just about anything had to be a step down from there, I suppose. And so it was. First of all, to an office with a much less-intriguing view of that same harbour. Then to a windowless office. Those, by the way, need to be outlawed.

Back to cubicle of sorts, if having a desk facing a part wall, part window with no dividers counts as a cubicle. Different desks, different buildings. I think my second favourite workspace (nothing was ever going to top that first huge office with the gorgeous view) was actually the one I balked at the most when I first learned of it. The lawyer I was working for moved into his family home (an older house) and renovated it into an office. The kitchen became the secretary's office, the dining room was a waiting room, His Eminence took up digs in the living room, the spouse of His Eminence was assigned a back bedroom and the other bedroom was assigned the title of "War Room". Alas, what was to become of me? I wanted that War Room, you see. Nope, wasn't meant to be. I, poor hard-working me, was assigned to the front hallway.

Say what?! You expect me to work in the [literally] narrow confines of a hallway? Are you nuts? Well, by the time it was all said and done, I was quite happy in my new home. No, I didn't have clients (or anyone else) traipsing through my office. Only the side door was used. There was french doors between my office and that of His Eminence and with our chairs being literally almost back to back, it was easy for either one of us to open the door, lean back and chat. I was back to having a window. And eventually that window housed an air-conditioner which worked well for me. Add in royal blue carpet, some nice wood end tables from a nicely furnished home and the fact that I could close the door between my office and the secretary's office and then open the inside front door and put up the screen for a nice breeze in the summer and I was happy. Yeah, I know, I'm a cheap date. But sometimes there is something to be said for solitude, peace and quiet and coziness.

Or course, now there are many days that I feel I have neither an office or a cubicle. The one day a week that I work physically in the Barristers' Library, I have a cubicle of sorts. More like a computer work station, I suppose. But I never know for sure which one it might be until I get there. Because someone else just might be using my favourite one. At home I have an office ... yeah, right. What has variously been known as the computer room, the play room and mom's office throughout the years ... and now seems to retain aspects of all three to some degree. Although much less a 'play room' now, thank goodness, since the young'uns are much less young. Still, it's my favourite room in the house, especially in the evenings with just the desk lamp on. It retains a feeling of quiet and order .... all right, semi-order, anyway.

But remember this - whatever your physical work situation, it always could be worse. Apparently it's the 40th anniversary of the cubicle. Now there's something worth celebrating. NOT. But in honour of the occasion, OddOrama has compiled a collection of cubicles of 'Ten Cubicles That Are Cooler Than Yours (One That Isn't)'.

This first one reminds me of articling. Hmmm, wonder why?

Or perhaps you're more of a functional person?

Feeling a little more whimsical?

Go check out the rest of them. And remember, it could always be worse, eh?

H/T to R. Enochs, Esq.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Playing The Race Card?

For those who have been following (most Americans?) or paying even the slightest attention (the rest of the world?) to the Rev. Wright/Barack Obama Barack controversy, I can do no better than to point you in the direction of the excellent discussion ongoing at Lex's arising out of Obama's speech yesterday.

It's not all one-sided; it's quite civil; and it should definitely get you thinking.

Update: Although you have to have read Lex's post to give context to the comments, it's really the discussion in the comments that I'm referring you to as much as anything.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

What's That You Say?

Apparently, I could be mistaken for a Canadian. No, really. I mean, who'd have thunk it? It's that darn accent, you see. Got to get rid of it somehow.

What American accent do you have?
Your Result: North Central

"North Central" is what professional linguists call the Minnesota accent. If you saw "Fargo" you probably didn't think the characters sounded very out of the ordinary. Outsiders probably mistake you for a Canadian a lot.

The Midland
The West
The Inland North
The South
The Northeast
What American accent do you have?
Quiz Created on GoToQuiz

So what about you?
And that's about, not a boot, by the way.

H/T to Because I Said So

Update: The link to the Quiz

Monday, March 17, 2008

Bluenose Heroes

There were a few events over the weekend that I hoped to blog about once we got back home. But let's start with the most important ones first.

The Chronicle Herald carries the story of three Nova Scotians awarded medals for their service in Afghanistan.

On May 16, 2007, then Master Corpororal Gerald Alexander Killam was leading ten soldiers through a village in southern Afghanistan. According to the Dartmouth native, they knew something was up when women, children and elderly folks started leaving the village. When they attempted to do the same, they came under machine-gun fire from three different locations. A Taliban ambush. The Master Corporal ordered his soldiers into a nearby water-filled ditch to take cover and then organized them to start returning fire.

According to a citation provided by the Governor General’s office, "Although separated from his platoon, he identified enemy positions and issued clear orders that enabled his section to engage the enemy. Inspired by his leadership, Sgt. Killam’s troops fought back a numerically superior enemy with no casualties to his section." Sgt. Killam says he was just doing his job that day. His chain of command begs to differ. He will be awarded the Medal of Military Valour at a March 26th ceremony Gov. Gen. Michaelle Jean in Ottawa.

28 year old Cpl. Matthew John David Elliott, also from Dartmouth, will be recognized with a Meritorious Service Medal for demonstrating versatile "and ingenious methods of collecting intelligence." The Corporal is a gunner in a light armoured vehicle. He credits his father, a veteran Mountie who worked in intelligence gathering for a decade, for helping him out in Afghanistan. But before he left for Kandahar, Cpl. Elliott used computer software to teach himself how to speak conversational Pashto, the local dialect.

Warrant Officer James Adam Hunter of Springhill, the civil-military co-operation detachment commander for Canada’s provincial reconstruction team in Kandahar last year, will also receive a Meritorious Service Medal. "His diligence, particular attention to cultural sensitivities while dealing with local Afghans, as well as his vast knowledge of the Zharey district, were instrumental to successful counter-insurgency operations in the region," says the commendation.

In the words of the Warrant Officer,
"I hoped before I came over — and I found it’s true here — that I see a physical difference as I go along where things are changing, and things are improving. It’s very small, very minute things, mind you. But it’s things that I can say, ‘I assisted with this.’ I actually did something that I can be proud of, things I can brag about, even back home."
Bravo Zulu, gentlemen.

Cpl. Matthew Elliott of Dartmouth
sits in an American Blackhawk helicopter
last April en route from Ma’Sum Ghar to
Kandahar Airfield in Afghanistan.

How To Get You Ass Kicked In High School

You remember that collection of really scary pictures from the 1970s that have been floating around the internets for awhile? Well, if you wish to continue to be amazed and afeared at the same time, check out this collection from a 1977 JC Penney catalogue.

And the commentary is about as hilarious as the pictures. Just one example.

How To Get Your Ass Kicked In High School:

This kid looks like he's pretending to be David Soul, who is pretending to be a cop who is pretending to be a pimp that everyone knows is really an undercover cop. Who is pretending to be 15.

So if you're looking for a few laughs, check out the rest of them. It's even better if you actually remembering people dressing that way.

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

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Friday, March 14, 2008

On The Road Again

Who said I can't be almost spontaneous?

We're off to the 'big city' with Mom and the kids to spend the last little bit of March Break. Ended up being rather expensive at the last minute, but you know what, you only go around once. And I am so grateful to have more time with Mom.

So enjoy the weekend. We will.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Welcome To Canada ... A Tale of Prenatal Screening

It's an interesting issue ... the ethics of prenatal screening, particularly when it comes to Down Syndrome. When I first heard of a movement afoot provincially to push for legislation around the issue, I was confused. Exactly what perceived problem were these people trying to solve?

Then I had a long chat with Renate Lindeman, mother of April and Hazel (both have Down syndrome) and president and co-founder of the Nova Scotia Down Syndrome Society. A mother. And a woman with a mission.

I am going to be blogging more about Renate's mission on the special needs blawg over the next little while. But I thought I might share here a poem Renate wrote. It an be found on her blog, Campaign for Down Syndrome.
I am seldom asked to describe the experience of raising children with a disability in Canada – to try to reach people who avoid this issue, to get them involved. It’s like this….

When we landed as Dutch immigrants at Halifax Airport six years ago, we were excited to start the first day of our lives in our newly adopted country. We found jobs, a home, made ‘Canadian’ friends and got involved in our community. Canada felt like the perfect place to live.

After years of successful integration, the day finally arrives that our own little Canadian was born. Several hours later, the nurse comes in and says, ‘your baby has Down syndrome, welcome to Canada.'

‘Canada?!?’ you say ‘what do you mean welcome to Canada’? We live here, our baby is born here, of course we are welcome here.
Go read the rest of it. It will bring a tear to your eye. And might just make you question what you think you know. If you're interested in learning more, check in at that the blawg over the next little while.

It's not about pro-abortion
It's not about pro-life
Its about pro-humanity

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Two Things I Have Learned ...

... in the Microsoft 2002 Flight Simulator.

You can't fly with flaps down.
Nope. No way. No how. No. Go.

And it's not a good thing to stress the aircraft. Seems to make it cranky. So in other words, don't get cocky and see if you can flip a Cessna completely over in a loop.

But on a brighter note, I've made two landings so far. As of tonight. Just not on any runways. It appears that I prefer farmers' fields. Must be the prairie girl in me.

I think I will wait awhile before I take on the Fighter Ace II program though.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

What Does Inclusion Mean To You?

This man with autism, who was chosen to sing the national anthem, got a case ofthe giggles half way through.

Listen to what the crowd does to support him. Makes you wonder what the world would be like if we always helped, not hurt one another.

H/T to Punky D

Friday, March 7, 2008

Second Chances and Taking Turns

I'm experiencing one of those rare moments of feeling truly blessed. While being utterly exhausted. Okay, that last part is pretty well par for the course but the first is ... amazing.

Some of you might be a bit familiar with what we are going through with my mom right now. And it's been hard. Really, really hard. Still is, for that matter. But one of the things I have truly been lamenting is that I feel like I have been losing Mom while she is still here. Grieving her being gone while I still help take care of her.

But my brother came down for a visit a few weeks ago. He was only here one week (a little less actually) but the most miraculous thing happened. I don't quite know how, I don't understand the why, but for once I don't need to. Mom is so much better.

Not physically. In fact, I think that has been steadily getting worse. But mentally ... I have my mom back! That is so huge. It overwhelms me just to think about it, let alone type the words. I came home from work tonight (late as always when I work in the city) and stopped by mom's to pick up the containers I use to crush her pills. She had just got her hair done today and she looked so good. She looked like Mom. And, much more importantly, she was Mom.

We sat and talked for quite a while until the Kit Kat and her dad got home. And I shared with her how I was feeling. How wonderful it is to have her back. How much I had missed her. How tired I was am. That even though I knew next week was March Break and had been trying to figure out activities for the girls, I never realized until I was driving home tonight, that it is March Break! Last year, the five of us had spent a couple of nights at a hotel in Halifax over the Break. It was a real treat for the kids (swimming pool!) and we all had a nice time. And what bothered me wasn't that I hadn't made any plans to do anything special (we usually don't, in fact) but that life had been so insane that it had never even occurred to me to even think about whether we should do anything.

Mom has always loved to travel. I guess I have come by that wanderlust honestly. And about a year ago I had suggested to her that I would really like for her and I to take a trip together. Somewhere. Anywhere. But just the two of us. Which is something we have never done. She thought it was a great idea. But before we could even consider doing anything about it, things started to fall about. And given the results of Mom's trip to see my brother last year, I do believe that is the end of her traveling days. But I am grateful that the girls, her and I managed a road trip to Florida a few years ago. Let's just say that was quite an adventure. When I say road trip, I do mean road trip.

But having Mom back for now is so wonderful. I say 'for now' because I realize that I don't know for how long it will last. But I do know that right now, by some miracle or twist of fate, I have been given a second chance. So, tonight, I told Mom all this. And told her repeatedly how much she means to me. How much I need her and love her.

I also shared that most days I feel torn and pulled in a hundred different ways. Work. The kids. A husband. A house. Appointments. My passions. They're all important to me but I can only be doing so many things at the same time, right? And right now, in some ways, I just wish that the other parts of my life could just take care of themselves for a while. To give me a chance to have some time with Mom.

So I asked her what she would like to do. And influenced, no doubt, by what I had just said, she said that she thought a trip to Halifax for a few days would be nice. Physically, for mom, I know that will be much more of a challenge than it was last year. Logistically, life is always interesting, especially when you haven't planned things. But I won't, I simply cannot let myself be put in the position of knowing I was given that second chance that I prayed for and I still blew it. I have some time with Mom, the real mom. And I need to take advantage of it. So who knows, perhaps a small trip is in our future next week.

Oh yeah, the taking turns part? I use to find when the Blue Jay was small and spent a lot of time in hospital with seizures, that things took turns. When her seizures were bad, things were fine at school. But when her health was good, invariably I had issues to deal with. You guessed it, at school. So now that things are settling down a bit with Mom (at least for now), something else had to happen, right? The 'something else' this time happens to be the Kit Kat. Trust me, don't ask. But I just have one question ... when do I get my turn?

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Truth, Justice and the Canadian Way Part I

Two follow on stories in this morning's newspaper.

The first has Prime Minister Harper determined to track down the source of the leak ... ahem, excuse me ... the second leak wherein US Presidential hopeful Barack Obama's economic advisor is said to have dismissed his boss's tough talk about renegotiating NAFTA as political posturing. I say the second leak because, as you might recall, that second leak involved the leaking of a government memo. The first leak , the original leak, however, was verbal ... and is credited with coming from the PMO's office. More particularly, Harper's chief of staff, Ian Brodie.

But it appears that Harper isn't so interested in tracking that one down, it's the second leak involving the government memo that has caused him to call in an "internal security team" and vow to use "every legal and every investigative technique necessary" to find the source. Not only that, but "based on what (investigators) find, and based on legal advice, we will take any action that is necessary to get to the bottom of the matter".

Strong language, that. However,

Government officials have said they will not seek out of the source of the original leak.
A little bit of hypocrisy there, perhaps? And the RCMP have not been called in, as requested demanded by the Opposition. Perhaps it is feared that that sort of investigation could result in the source of the first leak being outed as well?

Just to be clear, I am not particularly interested in taxpayer money being used to tracked down the source of either leak. Provided that we're fair ... if we're going to go after one, why aren't we going after both? Other than that, its just posturing, hypocrisy and silliness. Pathetic. In other words, politics as usual.

So did the leaks hurt Obama's campaign? Maybe a little. But we'll probably never know for sure. Hmm, I wonder if any US officials have ever made any comments during a Canadian election which might be thought to have a possible effect on the ultimate result?

At any rate, like I said before, I think the original comments were pretty pathetic, let alone the brouhaha which has resulted. But I was wondering something else too ... wasn't it also leaked that Hillary's camp had sent similar signals to Ottawa about her scapegoating of NAFTA? Whatever happened to the outrage over that "leak"?

Hey, folks, its winter in the Great White North. Has it come to this? Have we actually been forced to manufacture outrage just to get us through the winter blahs?

Update: Better late than never?

Update II: Good for the goose, good for the gander.

Truth, Justice and the Canadian Way, Part II

The second story contains the results of one of those long-awaited reports on taser use. This time in Nova Scotia. .

Apparently the amount of training "differs significantly among law enforcement agencies", with RCMP and corrections officers receiving 16 hours of training to become a Taser operator while municipal police officers and sheriff’s deputies get half that. Some enforcement agencies require a supervisor’s approval whenever possible before using the stun gun, while others are told to give notification "as soon as practical" afterward. Some guidelines say the only time a Taser should be fired more than once is when a subject continues to resist, while others don’t mention it. All enforcement agencies are told to issue a verbal warning before using the Taser, but only some are directed to give an arc demonstration before firing it.

So there you go, now you know. Anything surprising there? Not really, I can't say I expected consistency in either training or rules of engagement. However, as Justice Minister Cecil Clarke noted, "differences are hard to justify".

Incidentally, the report found that there was no "causal connection" between Taser use and last November's death of Howard Hyde, a 45-year old schizophrenic from Dartmouth who died about 30 hours after Halifax Regional Police subdued him with a Taser. Which doesn't much surprise me, either. Given that only a little digging will show that despite the number of people who have died after being shot with a Taser, it is very difficult to find more than one or two cases where the Taser itself is believed to have caused the death. Unfortunately, the media's favourite play seems to be to link the two events (being tasered and death) as being causal just because they both occurred.

And, as a final twist, the Halifax Police Department reports that their numbers show that there are more arrest injuries when tasers aren't used they when they are.

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

The Man of the House

If Only The Dead Could Speak ...

You know my feelings on the Tracey Latimer case. So why am I writing again?

Because in the last few days I have seen, for the first time, what is to me new information on the case. This despite having avidly followed just about every news story on Tracey and her father.

The first, which I read a few days ago, is from Michael Bach, Executive Vice-President Canadian Association for Community Living at York University.
We think the real lesson from the Tracy Latimer case is not, as many suggest, that we need to renew the debate about mercy killing. Because this was not euthanasia or mercy killing - Tracy was not dying. Her pain could have been relieved with more effective pain management medication if her parents had allowed a feeding tube to be inserted. They refused, which is why the pain management was so ineffective and the stories circulate that she could only take Tylenol...
The second is found in today's edition of the Chronicle Herald:

Tracy was scheduled for surgery which, it was hoped, would alleviate some of the pain and discomfort afflicting her, and other procedures were being considered to help with Tracy’s condition. Tracy, who had spent several months in a respite home, returned to her father’s house shortly before her death because of the imminent surgery.

No, I had never before read or heard either that Tracey's pain could have been relieved with more effective pain management medication if her parents had allowed a feeding tube to be inserted. Or that the upcoming surgery was intended to relieve some of Tracey's pain.

Rather, this was what I understood:
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.
To me, those two little points are rather important. Crucial, even, in helping me formulate my opinion on the actions of Robert Latimer. So which is it? What is the real truth? Will we ever know? And why has it taken 15 years for me to discover these two little tidbits on Tracey's condition?

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Colour Test

They say that on average it takes about five tries to get it right. But part way through the first time, I found a little trick that seemed to 'do the trick', so to speak.

So go see how you do. If you tell me yours, I'll tell you mine.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Blowing Smoke or Breathing Fire?

Frankly, I think this would be rather amusing if it wasn't so pathetic. Apparently Canada has made it to the big leagues ... if you consider the Ohio primaries to be the big leagues, that is.

Earlier this week the CTV reported that a senior Obama staffer had quietly reassured Canadian diplomats that his talk of pulling out of NAFTA unless it’s renegotiated is just campaign rhetoric. CTV also says Sen. Hillary Clinton’s camp has sent similar signals to Ottawa about her scapegoating of NAFTA in hard-fought Ohio.

But apparently the candidates, they beg to differ.

The editors at the Chronicle Herald had this to say on the subject:

It would be surprising if either camp does fess up to blowing NAFTA smoke in Ohio. But that’s exactly what both are doing in the tired old stump game of pandering to those who wrongly blame trade deals for job losses in America.

So forget about manufacturing jobs moving to China, India and America’s own sunbelt states to satisfy the U.S. consumer’s love affair with ever-lower prices. Don’t remind Ohio voters that Canada and Mexico are the most important markets for U.S. exports. Never mind that Ohio has a trade surplus with Canada. Or that tossing an agreement which allows Ohio-made engines to move duty-free to Ontario-assembled cars would be bad for both countries.

It’s just so much easier to ignore these NAFTA benefits and dumb it down to a big, faceless, soundbite conspiracy.

We can’t honestly believe intelligent leaders like Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton imagine Ohio factories are moving to Canada despite an inflated loonie. Or that the greenback’s decline isn’t a U.S. opportunity to sell to Canada and Mexico.

They surely know the value of NAFTA’s guarantee of secure access to Canadian oil and gas. We doubt they prefer a Middle East monopoly at the pumps. Or want Mexico to revert to instability, slow growth and hostility to investment.

Too bad they can’t be honest about what America’s interests and who America’s friends are.

Personally, I never have been a huge fan of NAFTA but to the above, I must say Hear, Hear.


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Saturday, March 1, 2008

The Real You ... Check Six

This could be great fun. And might just make you think a bit.
The idea is to write your memoir in just six words. Although it strikes me that those six words may well be very different at different times in your life.

Mine? Right now, that's easy.
Too much, too fast, too late.

But my personal favourite: Found Love After Nine Months

So what do you think? Are you up for it?
What's yours?

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

Cross-posted at The Flight Deck