Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Third Impression ... Bummer!

Bummer, man.

They really do want to drop those bombs, you know. I mean, really.

And although some of the pilots seem to try to justify or rationalize ... 'We're supporting the guys on the ground and if they don't need our help, it's because they are now in a position where they are able to do their jobs better, it's a good thing' ... they really do wish they were dropping those bombs.

Two months in the Gulf and not one dropped?! It's what they train to do. And besides, it's fun. And, as some of those of the Nimitz say, if we're not dropping bombs, if we're not needed here, then why are we here?

Which led me a little closer to finally formulating a query that has been floating around the edges of my consciousness for some time but continues to remain elusively just out of reach.

Some of the pilots spoke about the difference between being on the ground (in this case, in Iraq) as opposed to flying thousands of feet overhead. About how being a pilot, it's a different kind of war. And somewhere in there is an inkling of something I still can't quite get my head around, with regard to the whole F/A pilot thing. Being a pilot as opposed to actually being 'boots on the ground'. If dropping bombs is "fun" ...

Alas, I still can't quite determine where my feeble mind is attempting to go with this. Perhaps some day it will form itself into a coherent thought I can share.

The other thing that struck me last night was the sense that they are interviewing a lot more sailors and pilots who are 'against the war' or, at the very least, question the way it is being fought and their part in it than those that unreservedly support what they, themselves, are doing.

Of course, these are real people and you would expect a divergence of opinion on a subject as controversial as the Iraq war. But what I would like to know is if those interviewed are really a representative sample. I never kept track of the actual numbers and it might well be that those expressing negative opinions are simply standing out more in my mind (perhaps they are getting a little more screen time?) but assuming my perception is correct and we are hearing more negative than positive opinion, are they simply tending to interview more of those that disagree or does the majority of crew feel that way?

Not something we will ever really know for sure, I suppose. But I was surprised to see what at least looks to me as the preponderance of opinion. Did it strike anybody else that way, I wonder.

At any rate, you have to give the US Navy credit for letting it all be seen, the positive and the negative.

Carrier is underway for two more nights. "What next?" she asks.

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Second Impression - "Warts And All"

"Warts and all", they keep saying.

I do believe they are right on that score. One thing about it, nobody will ever be able to accuse '
Carrier" of being a ten-hour recruiting commercial for the US Navy, complete with patriotic music and the flag flying proudly in the wind.

I've never had much use for 'reality television', per se. I think it's too fake for me. Seriously, I mean it happens every day, doesn't it? Groups of people going off to desert islands with the prize of $50,000 being held out to the last man standing? Sorry, but that just doesn't fit in any definition of 'reality' that I am even vaguely aware of. No, that's not reality TV, that's what I call 'fake TV'. Reality TV, to me, would be 'Carrier'. True, not the reality of the majority of earth's residents, but it is a slice of actual reality for those who serve in their countries' Navy.

And say what you will, this series definitely does showcase the good, the bad and the ugly.

I was left with two main thoughts following last night's episodes. Fist of all, I am surprised they haven't shown more of the actual action on the port visits. I don't know how, exactly, they could have done that but when you keep hearing about "
partying like rock stars in Perth", for example, there are simply certain expectations to be met.

My second set of impressions was around the sailor whose dream came true ... dismissal from the Navy on charges of racism. It was interesting to watch him get from Point A (in the Navy) to Point B (back to being a civilian). But what was really interesting was to sit back and listen to him. Really listen to him. There's an old saying about a drunk man's mouth being a sober man's mind. Well, sober or drunk, this guy did tend to go on about how his racist attitudes weren't really his fault. It was how he was raised. He was brought up that way. By his family. It was how they talked. He wasn't even allowed to watch 'black TV' (whatever that is). Did I mention that it was how he was raised?

The thing is he went on like this so much, in what for the most part looked like a pathetic attempt to justify his actions, that somewhere along the way I started to feel sorry for him. No, not because it wasn't his fault, not because he was raised that way. Blaming someone else for our actions as adults is a pathetic attempt to not take responsibility for our actions. But coupling his mantra with his interactions with some of his black shipmates made me think that this guy really was pretty screwed up. A walking poster child for the concept that racism is often broken down by one-on-one interaction with those we carry stereotypical views about. That it's easier to hate any race in the abstract than it is to hate one particular individual of that race when you actually get to know him as a person.

What struck me was the thought (whether I am right or wrong, who knows) that at some level, this guy really didn't want to be this way. That he simply knew no other way. And, for that reason, put up what I think was intended to be a proud facade, to let everyone know that he was proud of his actions. I say "what I think was intended to be" because, in my view, he didn't quite pull if off. Unfortunately for him, he was, at least at this time, unwilling to put in the effort, the hard work, to actually change his way of thinking and his actions.

It's not that I think they should have tolerated or condoned his behaviour and kept him in the Navy. I don't. But I couldn't help but wonder if things might have turned out differently for him, that not only could he have found a career in the Navy but the rest of his life might also have changed, had he more time in the Navy. More time to actually get to know some of his shipmates as people, real people with strengths and flaws, just like him, and not just as 'one of those ... fill in the blanks". It could be, of course, that I am totally off-base about this fellow. But the thought wormed it's way into my head and seems to have taken up residence there.

Yup, warts and all. It's a good show.

Monday, April 28, 2008

First Impression

Got my dose of plane prOn for the week, I did. Although I must admit, after the first hour I thought this post was going to start with 'Not. Enough. Plane. PrOn.' Fortunately, after the second hour, that was no longer so.

Lex is gambling
hoping that we will get it. I mentioned before that it looked like it would be heavy on the human factor and I was rather surprised to find myself, of all people, thinking that all that human factor was getting a bit boring by the end of the first hour.

So we will see what's to be next. So far, so good, I would say. But we shall see.

Best [paraphrased] quote from last night:
Landing on a carrier at night is like having sex in a car wreck. It's violent. Lots of fun and well worth it, but it's over really quick.

Update: I must admit it did give me a sudden urge to go back and reread Rhythms. Again. So there was that.


Show this video around too much and MacDonalds could conceivably take a real hit. You may never look at 'fast food' the same way again.

Trust me. Watch it. The whole thing.

And Happy Munching. NOT!

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Charlie Wilson's War

"A stiff drink. A little mascara. A lot of nerve. Who said they couldn't bring down the Soviet empire."

I rented Charlie Wilson's War yesterday. Had wanted to see it in the theatre but alas, it was not meant to be.

Tell me, please, how I managed to get through the whole movie without realizing that I was watching Tom Hanks and Julia Roberts. Duh! Still don't know how I managed that. I guess I still think of Tom Hanks ala his Big days. He will be, for me, forever young. Or at least he was, until yesterday. And Julia, I have no idea how I missed her. True enough her hair was always up but I found her voice very different, she had an accent I have never associated with her. I might have recognized the teeth though!

All that aside, I really liked the movie. I had never heard the story before. Sure, I knew the Afghans beat the Russians when they tried to invade. Which is one fact people love to throw around when they argue that our current efforts in Afghanistan are all for naught. "Read your history", they say. "They beat the Russians, why do we think we can conquer them?" Or some variation on that theme ... But, like many apparently, I had never heard the story of the US involvement.

Besides the story and the delivery of the movie itself, I thought the ending was quite profound. When $2 billion later and the Russians have gone packing, Charlie is unsuccessful in getting $1 million to rebuild schools. "The Soviets are gone, are we still even in Afghanistan?" seems to be the feeling of the day. And as Charlie's argument that over half of the Afghan population is under the age of 14, that we always 'come in and do things our way' and then we leave, with no thought as to what we are leaving behind fell on deaf ears, I couldn't help but draw the parallel to today.

The story behind how the Afghans repelled the Soviets is not proof that what we are trying to do in today in Afghanistan is a waste of time. It's the very reason why we have to do what we are doing today in Afghanistan. It's the very reason why pulling out now would be the worst possible example of history repeating itself.

That old saying that those who don't know history are bound to repeat it, seems very apt here. Just not in the way many are using it.

When the world wasn't watching, they changed it forever.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Thirty Eight Tips For A Better Life - 2008

1. Take a 10-30 minute walk every day. And while you walk, smile. It is the ultimate anti-depressant.

2. Sit in silence for at least 10 minutes each day.

3. Buy a DVR and tape your late night shows and get more sleep.

4. When you wake up in the morning complete the following statement, 'My purpose is to __________ today.'

5. Live with the 3 E's -- Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy.

6. Play more games and read more books than you did in 2007.

7. Make time to practice meditation, yoga, tai chi, and prayer.
They provide us with daily fuel for our busy lives.

8. Spend time with people over the age of 70 and under the age of 6.

9. Dream more while you are awake.

10. Eat more foods that grow on trees and plants and eat less food that is manufactured in plants.

11. Drink green tea and plenty of water. Eat blueberries, wild Alaskan salmon, broccoli, almonds & walnuts.

12. Try to make at least three people smile each day.

13. Clear clutter from your house, your car, your desk and let new and flowing energy into your life.

14. Don't waste your precious energy on gossip, energy vampires, issues of the past, negative thoughts or things you cannot control. Instead invest your energy in the positive present moment.

15. Realize that life is a school and you are here to learn. Problems are simply part of the curriculum that appear and fade away like algebra class but the lessons you learn will last a lifetime.

16. Eat breakfast like a king, lunch like a prince and dinner like a college kid with a maxed out charge card.

17. Smile and laugh more. It will keep the energy vampires away.

18. Life isn't fair, but it's still good.

19. Life is too short to waste time hating anyone.

20. Don't take yourself so seriously. No one else does.

21. You don't have to win every argument. Agree to disagree.

22. Make peace with your past so it won't spoil the present.

23. Don't compare your life to others'. You have no idea what their journey is all about.

24. No one is in charge of your happiness except you.

25. Frame every so-called disaster with these words: 'In five years, will this matter?'

26. What other people think of you is none of your business.

27. GOD heals everything, but you have to let Him.

28. However good or bad a situation is, it will change.

29. Your job won't take care of you when you are sick. Your friends will. Stay in touch.

30. Get rid of anything that isn't useful, beautiful or joyful.

31. Envy is a waste of time. You already have all you need.

32. The best is yet to come.

33. No matter how you feel, get up, dress up and show up.

34. Do the right thing!

35. Call your family often. (Or email them to death!!!)

36. Each night before you go to bed complete the following statements: I am thankful for __________. Today I accomplished _________.

37. Remember that you are too blessed to be stressed.

38. Enjoy the ride. Remember this is not Disney World and you certainly don't want a fast pass. You only have one ride through life so make the most of it and enjoy the ride.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Knocked The Stuffing Out

Knocked the stuffing right out of me, it has.

Came down with this flu bug a little over a week ago. Every day got a little worse and a little worse. Until Saturday when I thought I was going to die. And then, even though after that each day seemed to get a little better, I still can't seem to get all the way better. I'm exhausted, all I really want to do is sleep. Not work. Not blog. Certainly not make any trips to the hospital to visit Mom. Just sleep. So needless to say it's been a week of not a hell of a lot.

But I'm kind of wondering if its more than just still being sick. Like I said, I lack the motivation to do anything. And although I know that at least part of it is physical, I am wondering if some portion of it is mental. It's been a month since Mom first went in the hospital. A month of ups and downs. Where she seems to be doing well for a while, only to start to slip and fade and seem really sick. And with the sickness, comes the increased confusion. Then she seems to get better again. And then the cycle starts over again. The one thing that is constant is how much she seems to need me. Not just wants me there, but needs me. And for whatever reason, I am finding that daily visits (with the exception of the one day a week I am away working in the city or when I have been really sick) are really starting to wear me down.

Hmm, I had put off posting this post because I didn't want the blog to turn into a whine and cheese party. Looks like it may be a little too late, doesn't it? But when no real inspiration was coming to me to blog something, anything else, I thought it might be best just to pop the cork. And share.

So now you know. Here's to better days ahead.

Monday, April 21, 2008

Golf Anyone?

In Afghanistan? Really?

Better to have gophers popping up your course than the Taliban, I suppose.

Friday, April 18, 2008

"I Want Millions, Seriously"

'I Can Put It Toward My Husband's Next
Training Camp' *

Former Nova Scotian Cheryfa
MacAulay Jamal, wife of terror
suspect Qayyum Abdul Jamal,
arrives at a Brampton, Ont.,
courthouse on June 6, 2006.
Ontario prosecutors stayed
charges against her husband and
three others this week.

That's right, Cheryfa MacAulay Jamal (formerly Sherry MacAulay) wants to sue Ottawa (for millions, apparently) now that the charges have been stayed against her husband who was jailed for 17 months on allegations of plotting terrorist attacks in Canada.
"I want millions, seriously," Ms. Jamal said Wednesday in a telephone interview from her Mississauga, Ont., home.

"I know it sounds greedy, but I don’t care. I want millions for what the kids have suffered and how much we’ve aged in this process."
Perhaps the poor dear is a little confused. While it's true that Herman Kaglik, Donald Marshall and Guy Paul Morin were all awarded in excess of $1 million as compensation in wrongful conviction settlements, those men were actually wrongfully convicted and spent from four to ten years in jail for crimes they didn't commit. And, by the by, Norman Fox only recieved a paltry $275,000 after spending 10 years in jail. Maybe your man is more in line with Richard Norris and Wilfred Truscott ($507,000 and $36,000, respectively).

Or maybe not. Norris and Trescott were actually convicted of crimes they didn't commit. Your man wasn't. Neither were they implicated in a terror plot in a post 9/11 world. Trust me, Cheryfa, when I say that many Canadians would be much more sympathetic to the ordeal that you and your family experienced if the first words out of your mouth weren't "I Want Millions, Seriously".


And as to your comments about not really missing Halifax, as it "would be very difficult" for you, "dressed how [you are] to go about [your] day" here", let me tell you this; although there aren't a lot of women wearing full veils here, it's highly unlikely that you would be harassed or otherwise disturbed as you went about your daily business. In case you hadn' t heard, Maritimers tend to be friendly folks.

But wait, you know that, seeing as how you use to be one, right? Come to think of it, maybe you are better off where you are.

And best of luck with that lawsuit, eh?

**... as per the Bruce MacKinnon cartoon in today's edition of the Chronicle Herald

Cross posted on The Flight Deck

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Most Excellent

As a nice follow on to Jetstream .... CARRIER

A 17 person film crew joins a 5,500 person floating city ~ the USS Nimitz ~ on a six- month deployment. The show is done as 10 one-hour episodes airing from April 27 - May 1, 2008 on PBS.

Check out the video on the right hand side of the page. Although a little long, it's well worth the time.

You can find a listing of the episodes here.

There looks to be a real emphasis on following the human factor, the stories of all the different people that make up the crew, from the 19 year old air men, the cooks, garbage handlers, the "shooters" and, of course, the pilots.

As just one example, Randy Brocks, who was literally abandoned by his parents, at age 3, at a carnival. And who is now waiting for his girlfriend to give birth to their first child while he is on deployment. But don't shed too many tears ... Randy Brock has served in the Marines for 13 years and has participated in five deployments. He continues to serve as a gunnery sergeant with maintenance control for Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 232 (VMFA-232), also known as “The Red Devils,” which was his role during the deployment featured in CARRIER. He was born in Oklahoma, has lived in Texas and Rhode Island and currently resides in California.

Some great quotes from the video:
The whole ship exists so that I can go off the end. So that I can go fly.

The Nimitz is high school. The pilots are the jocks.

Guys are different ... sometimes you just don’t wanna talk about sports, and flying, and porn. . .

Thanks, Lex.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Sad Canada Day

So it's official.

Canada's "top soldier", General Rick Hillier, will be retiring from his post as Chief of Defence Staff on July 1st. Canada Day. And quite frankly, I think that's a little sad for the country.

Say what you will about the man, but he does tend to evoke strong opnion both for and against him.

Personally, I respect him. He has a tough, no-nonsense reputation of standing up for the troops and the mission in Afghanistan. And although it's nice to know that others much more 'in the know' have positive thoughts as to his likely replacement, I still consider it a loss for the country.

So thank you, sir.


This song.

I must admit that I have only heard it a couple of times on the radio. But, quite frankly, that was a couple of times too many.

I find it annoying.

In a sad, pathetic, grate on my nerves kind of way. If you really have something to say to your President, perhaps you should consider picking up a pen or sitting down at your word processor and actually composing a letter. Or joining a political action group. Whatever. Just, please, don't make me listen to it.

The funny thing is, it's very rare for a song to strike me this way. For example, despite the fairly obvious political bent in the lyrics to 'Waiting on the World to Change', I still basically like the song. Maybe it just has a better tune.

But this one? Please. Be quiet. Go away.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Let's 'Surge' Some More

There's a great article at the Wall Street Journal written by Michael Yon, one of the most respected journalists embedded in Iraq.

I may well have spent more time embedded with combat units in Iraq than any other journalist alive. I have seen this war – and our part in it – at its brutal worst. And I say the transformation over the last 14 months is little short of miraculous.
Check it out. It's well worth the read.

And although we can all do with some 'good news' once in a while, in the grand scheme of things, this looks like very good news.

H/T to Take Five for the link

Saturday, April 12, 2008

Drop The Puck

How do you honour the memory of a comrade, a friend and a fellow submariner?

If your friend and brother in arms was Lt. Chris Saunders, with a hockey tournament, of course.
Tragically, in October 2004, Lieutenant (Navy) Chris Saunders lost his life while serving onboard HMCS CHICOUTIMI. To remember Chris, and the sacrifice he made for his ship and his crew, the Lieutenant (Navy) Chris Saunders Memorial Hockey Tournament was established. This year marks the fourth anniversary of the tournament, which will be held from 11 - 13 April at Shannon Park arena. Twelve teams, comprised of both civilian and military teams, from the Atlantic region will be participating.

In 2005, the initial purpose of the tournament’s proceeds was to establish and provide financial support for Chris’s two sons’ (Ben and Luke) education funds. In 2006 proceeds from the tournament were donated to the Matthew Burke Fund here in Halifax. In 2007, a Memorial Plaque and Tree honouring Chris were presented and placed in the National War Cemetery in Ottawa.

This year all proceeds will go to the Military Families Fund. The MFF works with the already established and substantial existing support programs offered through the Canadian Forces Personnel Support Agency (CFPSA) and elsewhere, to CF members and their families. The MFF allows for several areas of support, including rehabilitation, education, financial assistance in the case of injury or death of a CF member due to service, and urgent and extraordinary financial demands where the ability to provide family necessities is at risk.
Can there be any better way to honour such a friend and keep his memory alive? Something tells me that this annual tournament brings a smile not just to the faces of Lt. Saunders' family, but to the Lieutenant as well.

It rather makes you proud to be a Canadian, eh.

Friday, April 11, 2008


Although most in the audience thought it was all just part of the show, apparently this 'catch up' move (adding new meaning to the term "fly over") at a recent Boston Red Sox game wasn't quite authorized.


As in "The pilot has been 'grounded for remedial training.'".

Too bad. Because you have to admit, it is rather cool.

Thursday, April 10, 2008


Or perhaps a better title to this post might be Never Say Never Part II

H/T to LawEddie

Give A Man A Shovel

"We could have brought machinery and so on, things like that to build that road, and it would have been done faster ... but we don’t want to do that. We want the people to work on these projects, we want to create jobs, and in the end it’s to their advantage, and I think they understand that."
The above quote concerning an ambitious road construction project in the Panjwaii district of Afghanistan reminded of a famous proverb about the power in teaching a man to fish.

Canadian and Afghan troops are providing security for the construction project but it's the locals who are shouldering the bulk of the labour. What was originally envisioned as a 6.5-kilometre stretch of road to be completed by this October has now turned into plans to pave 22 kilometres of dirt track that runs through the heart of the district known as the birthplace of the Taliban.

And while I'm both pleased and proud with the Canadian contributions in funding and security to the project, this is what made it stand out for me.
Once the project is fully up and running in the next several weeks, an estimated 450 local nationals will be working on a daily basis, using little more than wheelbarrows, shovels and muscle — resources they have at their disposal, rather than the more efficient but costly high-tech methods familiar to western commuters.

The idea is to imbue them with the skills to do the work long after coalition forces have left, said Lt.-Col. Dave Corbould, the Canadian battle group commander.

"We’re teaching them how to build a road with the materials they have, and they’re now running it; we’re just helping it along," Corbould said.

"It’s building them a skill that will be enduring, that will last a long time, so that when repairs eventually need to be made to the road or they want to build more roads on their own, they’re taught the skills that they can use here, without having to have all the advanced heavy machinery."
Although progress is slow — just 500 metres per month - the end result should be a road that lasts for generations.
"Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime."

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

It Is What It Is

It occurred to me recently that some of readers (and particularly some of my 'old friends') might wonder where and how I came across my interest in aviation and what's led to my leanings and opinions ("When did she become a warmonger?!") on the topics of Afghanistan and Iraq.

So with the permission of the author (heh), I am reposting a portion of a posting from The Flight Deck a little over one year ago which should, hopefully, explain most of that.

'A Little To The Right Please'

I came to Lex's blog last summer. I came specifically and explicitly to read Rhythms. An occasional commenter here was praising Lex's writing on the IMDB site for one of Clancy's movies. And praising it. And praising it. So I finally decided to come and see what all the hype was about. And, of course, I was totally blown away. Lex once pegged me as loving a good sea story. And he's right, I do. Particularly if there are fighter jets involved. But I didn't even know that about myself when I first came here.

So with Rhythms complete, I checked out the blog. What was this place all about anyway? I did not come here to talk politics. I was not looking for a place to talk politics. Why would I be? I must admit that if Lex's writing had been a little less to the centre, a little more to the right than what it is, I would have left here pretty quickly. A "great story, shame about the rest of it" kind of thing. But it was just close enough to and just far enough away from my own thinking, that it titillated me. Challenged me. Gave me pause. And kept me reading. And, of course, one never knew when one would find another sea story. It started there. It ended up here. Hooked. Line and sinker.

In the last little while I noticed that something else has happened. Besides feeling right at home (some days I wonder if I feel too much at home here!), I notice that something has changed for me in my thinking about Iraq. Took me a while to figure out exactly what it was but now I think I have it. I would like to try to explain it.

Tuesday, April 8, 2008


Mom is in the hospital. Has been for two weeks actually. They can't figure out what the problem is. So they test and test. And wait and wait.

Sure, it was starting to get to her. She was starting to feel really down about being there and not knowing what was wrong. But then this past Friday things took a turn for the worse. Mom started getting very confused again, something that had been so much better since my brother's visit. We were away for the weekend (Kit Kat had a basketball tournament) and when I went up to see Mom on Monday, it was unreal. I have never ever seen her like this. It was way more than confused. It was paranoia. And she was afraid 'they' would get to me too.

The doctor called me this morning. Mom has been refusing to eat, drink or take any medication since yesterday. She was talking about putting in an IV if Mom didn't snap out of it. I had some success when I went up this afternoon. Got her to drink some tea and some Ensure and eat some pudding. And convinced her to take a nap. It seems that she had been fighting to stay awake for the past few days, certain that if she slept something bad would happen to someone. Maybe us. Maybe someone she didn't know. Just someone.

Thankfully I seemed to have a bit of success getting her to snap out of it. To let go of it. More success than I had yesterday at any rate. And then she told me that she was able to eat because I was there. 'But I can't be here all the time, Mom. You have to eat.' "I know, but sometimes it's hard to do what you know you're suppose to do.

I never realized until that moment how badly she needed me there.

Torn. Between Mom. And the kids. My husband. My work.

Just torn.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Never Say Never

"It feels like my legs are on fire and a million ants are crawling up my arms," Carly has written about the urge to hit herself.
I watched a recent piece on W5 about Carly. A young girl with autism who, after extensive ABA therapy, finally found a way to communicate. With the use of a laptop.

And although I watched the show with interest, I must admit that it slipped my mind until I read a reference to Carly at Mother of Shrek.

But it's a story that really needs telling.

A 13-year-old named Carly is challenging the conventional notions of autism, demonstrating emotional skills that lay hidden for years, until one day, a computer helped her reveal to the world what it's like to have her condition.

From an early age, it was clear Carly had autism. As a young girl, she would often rock back and forth for minutes on end, flail her arms and hit herself repeatedly. Equally troubling, she never gained the ability to speak.

Never say never. When Carly was 10, after years of intensive therapy, she surprised everyone.

Working with a computer equipped with pictures and symbols, she started typing and spelling words. At first it was just words -- help, hurt, head, teeth -- but soon she was assembling sentences.

She typed slowly, using only one finger, and the words she wrote stunned all who knew her.
As Carly learned to write better, she began describing what it was like to have autism and why she does what she does, such as making odd noises and hitting herself. It's riveting and in many ways heartbreaking to discover what it's like to be Carly, to be in her skin and in her head.

Besides the original story, you can read excerpts from some of Carly's recent conversations with her therapists. Here is just a sample:
My mom asked me a question that no one ever asks me What do I want
I want not to feel whats happening in my body I want to stay at home and not go to the farm I want to be like every other kid But I cant
Because I am carly
I cant sit for long times or even walk past an object with out having figths in my head I no I cant take that but my mind is fighting with me
I want to be able to go to a school with normal kids but not have to worry about them getting up set or scarred if I cant help myself and hit a table or scream
I want to be able to read a book by myself without having to tell my self to sit still and not close the book and follow each word and concentrate
I want to sit at a table with my mom and dad and worry about my body might do that I might not be able to control
I want to be able to talk to people and have them understand me the first time not respell over and over again Its to hard

Would you do me a favour?

If you are fortunate enough to have a 'typical' child in your life, take a moment to stop and reflect. And appreciate, yet once again, what you have. How fortunate you are to have been blessed with what so many take for granted.

And if your life is blessed with a challenged child, be they autistic, mentally or physically challenged ...

Many years ago, a friend made the comment that these kids aren't just 'challenged', they're also 'challenging'. So somewhere in the midst of all that challenging behaviour, pause to take a deep breath and think for a moment about Carly. And what it might be like to be in your child's skin.

And remember ... 'never say never'.


I was taking a semi-critical look at Ye Olde Blogroll the other day (It's Eclectic, don't you know). I have a close relationship with it; almost as close as that with my site meter.

What I really like about having a blogroll is having those sites I visit regularly all in one place. It's so much easier to just get there. I have lots more blogs (milblogs, legal blogs, just plain old everyday blogs) saved in my Favourites but I rarely visit to them. Those in my blogroll on the other hand, many of them are dailies.

But, alas, some of my old friends seem to be no longer posting. Or are already gone.

First I lost nEoAuTeUr. Damn, he was a good writer.

Terabell, Legally Numb, Not A Lawyer ... the first two haven't really posted in months and I see we might have to rename that last one Not A Lawyer (Lite). Me thinks Gerri must be too busy with Absolutely True. But I must confess, personally I much prefer her legal side.

And I'm not sure what's up with Law School Blogger lately. He seems to have lost some of his ... zip, his pizazz ... since Christmas. And then he posted Tuesday that he had been emailed a 'Cease and Desist' letter from the lawyers of some dude who owns and operates and owns the right to the name “LawSchoolBlogger” too. That even though he figures he could win it, he has decided to concentrate on his last year of law school, taking the Bar Exam and promoting his new book.

April Fools joke? Hard to tell. He insisted in comments that it wasn't. But then he put up a new post the next day without any reference to it. Men. Lawyers. Boys who want to be lawyers. Who knows ...

Fortunately, I still have some of my favourites.

Pipecleaner Dreams is written by a mom with five special needs children. She's a very good writer and always has interesting disability-related topics.

Mother of Shrek ~hi, Casdock ~ now if you're looking for something out of the ordinary, that's the place to go. Where does she find that stuff?

And of course my good friend, Punky D at Take Five.

Then there's the friends I've met and made along the way though Lex's ... Reflections by Kris, Fuzzilicious Thinking and JEOPARDYINMD. And the blog friend I found through Kris, Sara at Balancing Act. Come to think of it, personally I have almost no need to actually have Neptunus Lex up there. I have Lex's set as my homepage so I'm always there!

I can't remember who actually put me on to Boobs, Injuries and Dr. Pepper but that's been quite a ride. I hadn't been a real regular reader, just checking in here and there. But then I checked in one day in early March and found The Crazy Chronicles: Part I. She's up to Part 14 now. Check it out. I'm hooked. And despite how it might seem at first, no, it's not like watching a car train wreck. Another amazing writer. Sharing some very personal stuff.

One of my favourites at the moment though is Kaboom: A Soldier's War Journal. I checked out one post the first time FbL mentioned him, thought it was interesting. But when she mentioned him a few more times, I thought maybe I needed to pay more attention. I was right.

Amazing read. Amazing stories. It's one thing to read about Iraq in the newspaper. Even to follow the issues with the help of Lex's great writing. But to read what the young LT has to say? Something else. Language warning though, it's sprinkled a little liberally with the language of soldiers. But you get use to it. And he's good. Very good. I find myself checking daily for updates. As an aside, I also like the music he has up the moment - All These Things That I've Done by The Killers.

Ah well, I suppose I might have to do some housecleaning on some of those first ones. I just hate letting people go though. Keep hoping they might change their minds or something in their lives will shift. But one thing about the blogosphere, there's an amazing variety out there, from the great to the mediocre to the downright depressing. It's a good thing I have friends to help me sift through and find the good ones. I am sure there will be more soon.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

'Who's Your Daddy?'

What a difference a day makes. Yesterday, it was bad news. But today, it looks like we're in. Well, almost anyway.

It seems that Canada is finally going to get some help in southern Afghanistan. So what brave country has stepped up to fill the void? Is it Germany? Italy? Spain? France perhaps?

Oui. Mais, non. It's complicated, you see.
France confirmed during a working dinner among NATO leaders that it will send an additional battalion — anywhere from 700 to 800 troops — to Afghanistan, said Sandra Buckler, the prime minister’s communications director.
Hey, great news! But wait ...
As a result, the Americans say they will commit additional resources to the southern region of the war-torn country, including Kandahar, where the Taliban insurgency is strongest.
What? Je ne comprend pas...
And now France has committed a battalion of soldiers to eastern Afghanistan, enabling the movement of U.S. forces to the south to reinforce the Canadians — another condition for the extension
Oh. Okay. Now I get it.

Not quite what Lex promised. Then again, maybe it is. Laughable, that is. At least now we know where the real help is coming from. No surprise really.

And then there's the little matter of those 3,5000 Marines. Thanks for that too.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

April Fools ... Just Look In The Mirror

So today's the big day. April 1st.

The day when Nova Scotians
  • become the first province in the country to ban outlaw smoking in motor vehicles when a child under the age of 18 is present;

  • can no long use cell phones while operating a motor vehicle unless the phone is hands-free; and

  • Nova Scotians living in the Annapolis Valley will be forced to switch from the traditional black or green garbage bag to clear bags.
Now, let's be clear on a few things. Personally, I don't smoke and I think that people who do smoke around their kids are crazy.

I'm all for highway safety.

And although I'm not quite going 'ga ga' over the effects of climate change and what not, I do believe that we have a stewardship, a duty and a moral obligation to do a lot better job of taking care of this planet than we traditionally have. Yes, we reduce, reuse and recycle. And I would say that about 90-95% of the time we get the recycling part right, with the occasional mistake here and there.

But I've already expressed my thoughts on the whole concept of outlawing smoking while children are present in a motor vehicle. On more than a few occasions, in fact. Quick recap -

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

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

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

~ ~ ~ ~ ~ ~

I 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?

Recycling. Like I said, I'm all for the concept. And I think that, as a province, we are doing a pretty good job.
There has been a 50% waste diversion in Nova Scotia.
Nova Scotia has reduced from more than 100 dumps and open-burning sites in the 1970's to 18 landfills, with only 9 expected to be operating by 2005.
100% of Nova Scotians have curbside recycling.
3000 jobs were created since April 1, 1996 through Nova Scotia's Solid Waste Management Strategy.
87% of households in Nova Scotia are within 20km of an Enviro-Depot (This is where bottles are returned for deposit refund).
80% of bottles are kept out of landfills because of their deposit return system.

It strikes me as a little heavy-handed and paternalistic to demand that all garbage now be placed in clear bags. Excuse me, all but one 'personal bag'. Thanks. Appreciate that. They had a good thing going here. I wonder if they've considered the possibility that if they irritate enough people with this latest move, they might just hurt the whole recycling program.

And then there's the cell phone issue. A lot of people are saying that the province's move isn't enough as research shows that even talking on a hands free cell phone is 'distracting'. Something tells me that will be the next to go. Well, I'm sorry, I don't care what the 'research' says, I fail to see how the simple of act of talking on the phone, as long as your hands aren't involved, is any more distracting than talking to the passenger in the next seat. Or thinking about a problem at work. Or brainstorming any other problem in your life. Or how it's different from any of those other times my mind, completely on its own initiative, goes on 'automatic pilot' while I am driving. How many of us haven't reached our destination at times and then realize that we have absolutely no memory of part of the drive? Automatic pilot. So shall we outlaw passengers in motor vehicles? How about if we hook up electrodes to drivers' heads ... we could always just 'zap' them if their thoughts stray from their driving, right?

How far can we realistically and logically go to protect ourselves and one another? How far should we go? In my opinion, it's highly fitting that these new changes are coming into effect today, on April Fools Day. Because I think we might just be coming very close to finding out where the line of absurdity lies.