Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Just watch out for those check flights ...


... they can be killers!

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

'Tis The Season

'Tis the season.

To warm things up around here. Do some dusting. Pull out some cozy, colourful stuff. Maybe put the hot chocolate on, too.

Don't worry ... we'll have an adult version too, Kahlua, anyone?

So bear with me while I do some housekeeping around here. Have to dig out the decorations, put the tree up ... you know, the usual.

Bear with me - I'm still working on the colour scheme. Blog-decorating isn't as always as easy as it looks, you know.

In the meantime, sit back, put some tunes on and get yourself some Christmas spirit.

I know that's what I intend to do. Just as soon as I get some work done (of the paying variety).

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Anti-Bullying Legislation a Good Thing, Right?

Following the debacle of the Rehteah Parsons case last year, I was a little unsure of how the noises being made by both the provincial and federal governments about tightening up both the law and the legal process around the issue of bullying were going to work out.

Unsure because, really, can you actually legislate bullying out of existence?

And as far as Rehteah's case went, a sexual assault is a sexual assault is a sexual assault, is it not? Even if the police refuse to properly investigate the matter?*

But be that as it may, I initially thought it was a good thing when the federal government recently announced changes to the Criminal Code making it a criminal offence to spread intimate pictures of someone without their consent. After all, what could go wrong with that, right?

A lot, apparently. At least, a lot when you're talking about a federal government that is willing to be more than a little sneaky and turn its self- this proclaimed anti-bullying legislation into ... what exactly?

Apparently only about one and a half pages of the 65-page Bill actually deal with making it illegal to spread an intimate picture of someone without their consent.

The rest of the Bill varies widely, much of it giving the police new powers to obtain digital information (including lowering the standard required to get a warrant to obtain such information from having "reasonable and probable grounds to believe" a crime has been committed to having "reasonable grounds to suspect" a crime has been committed). And let's not forget the provisions about obtaining production orders against financial institutions for banking records.

But, wait, there's even more.
One section of the bill makes it illegal to use a device to hook up to a telecommunications service without lawful payment. It’s not clear whether computer programs count as a device, or if the proposal could be broad enough to punish something as common as hooking up cable without paying for it or accessing a locked Wi-Fi signal. 
Now whether or not these amendments are "good ideas" is not really the point.

No, the point is this - how dare the government try to sneak in all these totally unrelated criminal provisions under the heading of "protecting children from cyber-bullying"? And how dare the media go along with that characterization, happily proclaiming the new legislation as being about protecting our children from cyber-bulling, full stop, until someone stood up and demanded that the truth be made known?

This is so whether or not one thinks these amendments are a good idea. And I say that despite the fact that one, in particular, I do believe is a very good, appropriate change. Just not one to be characterized as above.

You see, one of the amendments expands the definition of “identifiable groups” that can be the subject of hate speech to include a person’s age, sex, mental or physical disability and national origin. And this particular change, I firmly believe, is a very good thing.

One of the reasons why the writer of this vile hate-filled "letter" could not be prosecuted was because individuals with physical or mental disabilities were not included as an "identifiable group" under sec. 318 of the Criminal Code.  You see, while it is a crime in Canada to "advocate or promote genocide" based on colour, race, religion, ethnic original or sexual orientation, neither age, race, sex nor physical or mental disability was included. From which one can only (wrongly) presume that it is, indeed, okay with Canadians to advocate killing off, amongst others, persons with disabilities.

That it was only after this incident that the government stepped up to amend that section is sad. But the fact that they are willing to do so now is a good thing. Although apparently they were not so anxious for anyone to actually realize they are doing a good thing ... after all, they could have scored points with many Canadian citizens had they proclaimed the fact that they were making this change instead of hiding it among so many other hidden amendments.

By the by, no one should have any trouble with this particular amendment, should they?

Well, the British Columbia Civil Liberties Association, of all people, apparently is not in favour of this proposed amendment.
“Imagine your rant about children today. Your rant about men this, women that. The question is what on earth is contemplated here,” said Vonn. 
“Which is not to condone hate. We don’t do that. But we are talking about some very serious provisions of the Criminal Code. 
In particular, Vonn said she has heard concerns from the Palestinian community that protecting national origin could criminalize harsh criticism of Israel.
Perhaps some legal education is called for here.

First of all, "rants" are not criminalized. Neither before this proposed amendment nor afterwards.

What is (and, just for the record) has been criminalized) is "advocating or promoting genocide" and "publicly stirring up and inciting hatred" against an identifiable group. So unless someone would believe that you're seriously calling for the death of all children or all members of the (presumably) opposite sex you should be okay.

And about those Palestinians - correct me if I'm wrong (and I know you will) but aren't chances pretty good they were already covered by the term "ethnic origin"?

Then again, should I really be surprised?

After all, we have a government that is unethical enough to try to put this one over on the very people it has been elected to serve and a media who was either too complicit or too stupid lazy to actually do its homework (as in, actually read the proposed legislation) and initially call foul.

Why would I expect the BC Civil Liberties Association to be any better? My bad.

* The much-belated recent police investigation falling, in my mind, in the category of "Too Little. Too Late."

Monday, November 11, 2013

Just Another 'Pittance in Time'

I don't know if anyone else noticed, but it appeared to me that following 9/11, we experienced an upswing in patriotism in Canada.

Okay, maybe "upswing" isn't quite the word ... the majority of Canadians always have been patriotic but pre-9/11 it was a very different kind of patriotism. A quiet patriotism that we held in our hearts and shared quietly with one another but that we seemed to feel no need to shout from the rooftops.

As I said, that seemed to change after the horrific events of Sept. 11, 2001.

More flag-waving, more open expressions of pride in our country. And more poppies. Definitely more poppies.

Remembrance Day seemed to become revitalized and take on a larger, broader meaning. And I was am a big fan of this change.

Sadly, though, I am wondering if that more open expression of pride and appreciation for our country (and those that serve in its name) is starting to ease off just a bit - at least in connection with Remembrance Day.

I hope not. I pray not.


Sunday, November 10, 2013

Lest We Forget

Once upon a time, I use to post on the anniversary of 9/11.

The fact that I haven't recently doesn't mean that I no longer care or have somehow lost interest ... no, I believe it just somehow summarizes the present state of my life.

But when I came across this video for the very first time today, it having been posted on the Super Secret Neptunus Lex Face Book page, I knew I simply must share it with you. Before it is swallowed up once against in the mist of cyberspace.

And so I shall. 

It is beautiful, hauntingly so; don't you agree?

There's a hole in the world tonight. Don't let there be a hole in the world tomorrow.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Standing Up for Human Rights in the Disability Community

I have waxed poetic (or, hopefully, at least semi-poetically) on the subject of human rights several times over the years on this blog. And yet it will come as no surprise to those who really know me that my true passion in the area of human rights involves the disability community.

On my legal blawg, I have discussed at length a variety of issues, including education, transportation, recreation, employment, medical care or housing - all of which, bottom line, deal with the right to equality, the right to have the same access to the same services and (even more importantly, the same opportunities) as everyone else,

Yes, there will always be those that have it worse than you and I, than mine and yours. But just think of what it must be like to live with a disability in a third world country or a country where you are, irrespective of your disability, of the *wrong* gender or race. Then again, come to think of it, you could be an Aboriginal child with a disability living right here in Canada. Think of how much worse your life could would be.

But that really isn't the point, is it?

Of course not - the point is that no matter where we live, no matter who we are, we are all entitled to the same basic human rights. Not because the government of the day happens to agree or because we live in relative wealth, but because of one simple, inescapable fact - male or female, old or young, no matter our race or gender identity or sexual orientation or any other difference, no matter where we happen to live on this earth ...





And yet, simply *having* these rights is obviously not enough. Like any other "right", such rights would be meaningless without a mechanism of enforcement.

And as I turn my mind to the legal world, to "the law", I can only sincerely and humbly thank those who had the grit, determination and drive to realize the obvious and fight to have those rights enshrined as part of our law. And, in Canada's case, not just as part of the law. but as part of the highest law of the land, our Constitution.

But, sadly, two steps forward and one step back seems to be the way of life in so many ways. For even though sec. 15 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees that every individual is "equal before and under the law and has the right to the equal protection and equal benefit of the law without discrimination and, in particular, without discrimination based on race, national or ethnic origin, colour, religion, sex, age or mental or physical disability" and even though Canada is a signatory to both the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, we are still forced to stand up and fight for these rights over and over, right here in Canada.

So it is that I can only offer my eternal gratitude to those, both inside and outside the disability community, who have stood up to demand that these rights be, not just recognized, but given real meaning; to those who have stood up for the rights of our parents, our siblings, our children, our friends, ourselves.

But as I write this I realize that what concerns me, personally, most of all in this matter are those in the disability community who, for whatever reason, will not stand up and be counted, not stand up and be heard, not stand up and support others in their fight for equality. For it is only if we all stand together that any one of us can be truly successful. And so I leave you to ponder the famous words of Martin Niemöller:
First they came for the Jews
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Jew.
Then they came for the Communists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a Communist.
Then they came for the trade unionists
and I did not speak out
because I was not a trade unionist.
Then they came for me
and there was no one left
to speak out for me.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Just Call Me Juliet

Who, me??

You are Juliet from Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet. You are a romantic, but are not afraid to stand up for what you want. While you believe in happily ever after you are no damsel in distress and have a strong mind.

Often considered one of the greatest love stories of all time, Romeo and Juliet is one of Shakespeare's most famous plays. This tragic play was first published in 1623. Shakespeare is one of the most well-known playwrights in Western literature. He wrote tragic, comedic and historic plays as well as poems and much else.
Okay. Maybe. 

What about you?

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Wow, what a great video! You tell them, Megan.


So what say you?  Let's distribute this far and wide.

Share it on your social networks. Share it with your friends. Show it to your children.

But, most important of all ...

Do. Not. Limit.


H/T to Ashley's Mom at Pipecleaner Dreams

Cross-posted at A Primer on Special Needs and the Law 

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

When Words Fail Me ...

This video speaks for itself.

But the saddest scariest thing is this woman is not alone. She may be the only one brave enough to actually type and deliver such a letter, but I can guarantee you she's not the only one who thinks such thoughts.


Perhaps most of those who do would never suggest that a child, any child, should be euthanized or his "non-retarded body parts" donated to science. But they wouldn't hesitate to express their belief that such children should not be going to their neighbourhood schools, should not be participating in the same extracuricular activities as their "normal" children do; perhaps, even should not be taking up scarce dollars in our healthcare system.

We would like to believe that human beings are inherently good. That, most of the time, if we just give them the chance, they will do the "right thing".  Maybe we're right - maybe most are.

But something like this has to make a parent wonder how many more monsters are hiding in the darkness or behind the annonimity of their keyboards. And shudder at the thought.

H/T to Krista Lettues for the video

Cross-posted at A Primer on Special Needs and the Law

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

NOT Giving Up the Ghost

Nope. Most definitely NOT Giving Up the Ghost.

But, maybe, just maybe, giving up all pretense that this is, in fact,an active blog. Because, really, it's not been looking much like one lately. And, were I to be completely honest with myself [and if not me, then who??], it hasn't for quite some time.

Don't get me wrong. It's not like the blog is actually going anywhere.

No, Free Falling is not going to disappear, fall off the face of the earth or anything like that. It will continue to ... well, Free Fall, I guess. And that is why I am making a point of most emphatically stating that I am NOT Giving Up the Ghost.

But, once upon a time, I use to write about politics and current events. A fair bit, in fact, if my Blog Archive does not deceive my eyes. Alas, not so much [cough, cough] now. But I have decided to make a conscious decision [Did that even make any sense??] to cut myself some slack about that. A lot of slack, in fact. It is what it is and I am (finally) prepared to accept that.

Although, as an aside, I must say that I do have to wonder if I am just shouting into the abyss right now with no one to hear my words but myself. Once upon a time, I use to have regular readers, you see. But now, perhaps not so much. Of course, once upon a time, I also had Lex's readership to draw upon. Again, sadly, now not so much.

Just for the record, I haven't given up blogging, though. A Primer on Special Needs and the Law is still going strong. Which reminds me, if anyone is out there interested, I can cross-post my second 5 Minutes of Fame television debut for you to take a peek at.

But back to the topic at hand.

Then again, I guess I have pretty much summed up the topic at hand. The blog will still be here. And I imagine I will post from time to (unspecified) time. Just because I can.

It's funny; I've never thought of myself as vain and yet I must admit I really do enjoy ~ looking ~ at my blog. I like to make it pretty (must be a gurl thing). So who knows ... I might just find myself changing the background around more than I do posting. And if so, so be it.

Oh yeah, there is one other thing I like to use Free Falling for besides actually, you know, blogging at. It's a great place to keep my own blog roll in one place. Although, were I to be honest, I haven't been using that much lately, either.

But we shall blame that on Facebook - giant time suck that it is; yes, we shall. And, of course, it doesn't help any that I now boast not one, but two Facebook business pages, both clamoring for content at all hours of the day and night.

But, hey, just to prove that Ye Olde Blogroll is still alive and well, I added a new blog to it the other day. [Quick game - can you guess which one it is?] Now, if I can just make sure I get here to actually read them.

And, of course, lest we forget (and I know I never shall), this little spot in cyberspace also boasts The Best of the Best of Neptunus Lex. 'Nuff said.

And so I bid you a fond adieu (at least for now).

And leave you with this naval aviation video.


Just because I can.

Sunday, June 23, 2013


Cuz that's what I did.  I found myself an aeroplane and flew up, up
and away.

It's off to Winterpeg I went (thank goodness it's not winter!!). For my niece's wedding. And for to finally meet the world's cutest little great-niece.

Pics to follow ... I can't seem to figure out this silly I-pad. :(

The End

Saturday, May 25, 2013

When Up is Down and Down is Up

Good drugs ... let's admit it, we're all looking for some, right?
Okay, maybe some of us more than others.

But I am definitely looking for a good drug at the moment.

A new drug.

One that won't make me sick. 
One that won't make me crash my car. 
Or make me feel three feet thick. 

One that won't hurt my head.
One that won't make my mouth too dry.
Or make my eyes too red.

One that won't make me nervous ... 

Well, you know the rest.

Here's the thing - we're playing with my MS drugs at the moment. Upping this one and downing that one. And some days, like today, it feels like a real roller coaster ride.

So tell me, does anyone know?
Did Huey ever find that drug he was looking for?

Cuz, if so, I'm thinking he better be willing to share.

Or else, things might just get a wee bit ugly around here.
And trust me, nobody wants to see that.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Slice of Americana Canadiana

An actual conversation between myself and HWWNBN late last night:
HWWNBN: Why are my papers (various quotes for building material that he left on a coffee table) all messed up? 
MMC: Because they were on top of the coaster I needed. 
MMC: But why are the papers on the table, anyway? 
HWWNBN: They're quotes ... (indignantly) 
MMC: Yeah, but you've already bought the stuff! 
HWWNBN: Yeah ....   
HWWNBN:  They're garbage. 
MMC: So let me get this straight - you left your garbage on the table instead of throwing it out? And now you're complaining because somebody messed up your garbage? 
MMC: Seriously?? 
At any rate, I am pleased to report that when I got up this morning the garbage, excuse me, his papers were gone from the table.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

D-D-D-D-Done Did

Remember that project I really had to get going on? The one I posted about a year ago? Yeah, that one.

Well, I am pleased to report that it is now, finally

Yep, that's right - it only took me one year from the time I first posted (aka 14 months after the Blue Jay actually turned 19) to get this far.

But, hey, in my defence, I now have an actual COURT DATE. For next month.

I know, hard to believe, isn't it?

Although, also in my defence, the delay was not entirely my fault (she proclaims loudly, for all to hear).

One good thing that has come out of the process of applying for guardianship of the Blue Jay, on my own, is that I now definitely have a greater appreciation of the struggles faced by those families who choose to proceed unrepresented in a guardianship application (with the help of my Kit, of course).

Struggles such as having to coordinate affidavits between two different doctors. And, more importantly, having to find some sucker good-hearted lawyer soul willing to swear those (and other) affidavits, pro bono like.

And, not just pro bono, but actually, like, willing to attend at the doctors' offices. Because, believe it or not, doctors do not attend at lawyers' offices. Oh no, lawyers attend at doctors' offices. And never the twain shall meet. Let's just be clear about that.

And hey, who knew? Besides the fun involved in actually figuring all that out, that can, in fact, take just a little bit of time.

But, at any rate, I am very pleased to announce that I have made it this far.

Particularly because, going forward, the matter really is pretty much out of my hands. We have a court date set, you see. Which means the day (only a few weeks hence) will dawn (whether I like it or not) and I will be completely prepared because, really, what choice do I have?

That's right ... it is now officially out of hands.

Which, really, come to think of it, is no doubt a very good thing.

** No, it may not be a DONE deed. 
But I DID, indeed, get to the point where it is out of my hands. 
So there. Take. That.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

A Ray of Light in the Darkness

I have touched briefly on the years of Hell we went through when the Blue Jay was little - actually from the time she was 13 months until she was 10 years old. Although seizures may not have touched our lives, directly, for the past seven years, those memories are not just burnt into my brain but a part of the very fabric of our family.

Such is the laser-story of the background to my reaction to what I discovered on FaceBook yesterday. [Perhaps FaceBook does serve some useful purpose, after all. Who knew?]

So what did I discover that has so completely garnered my attention? See for yourself.

You know, a very large part of me has to wonder why ... why is the use of such a discovery a big deal at all? Why are families forced to pack up and move across the country to get their child the treatment they need?

Perhaps it is the fact that I live in the Great White UP, where we have a system for the approval of the use of medical marijuana. I gather the situation is a little more cloudy in the United States.

Whatever the reason, I can tell you that without a moment's hesitation I would have tried cannabis for the Blue Jay in our darkest days. Yes, for the part of that time, she was only a toddler, but those seizures were robbing her of her life.

Although the situations are not identical, I strongly identified with the two families profiled in the video above. When we were living through our own personal nightmare, the ketogenic diet was the new kid on the block, looked down upon by medical professionals, and not just completely misunderstood by the general public but pretty much totally unheard of (essentially a step down from being completely misunderstood).

The food was much too "unpalatable", how can a child possibly survive without going to birthday parties, it's a regiment that is impossible for a family to maintain, no child will put up with it and, of course, it was much, much too unhealthy - we heard it all and I have a response for each and every one of them, although I won't bore you with that at the moment. Let's just say that families do what needs to be done and can be incredibly innovative and creative when need be. And done with a little care and attention, there is no need for the ketogenic diet to be so unhealthy.

The diet was our "miracle drug" (although, of course, not a drug) at the time. And I have never regretted it for one moment. Not when I fought with the doctors for months to get them to agree to merely try try it; not when we fought daily with the Blue Jay, herself, when we initially tried to get her to accept it and worked for months with a child psychologist to convince her to actually eat the food; not when, after going almost two years seizure-free on the diet, we lost control and essentially had to start all over again; and not the second time we lost control thanks to a doctor's neglect and the Blue Jay ended up in the hospital, not just actively seizing again but with dangerously low potassium levels.

Hard? Hell, yes.

Sorry, we gave six years of our and the Blue Jay's life to it? Hell, no.

So now you have a much more complete background to my response to the above video. Perhaps that's why I can't see the issue with using medical marijuana in this way. Instead of horror or concern, I was elated to learn of a new epilepsy treatment and fascinated to learn how, instead of growing plants to maximize the THC (the chemical that makes you "high") content, they actually manipulate to increase the CBD content, which is the compound that is effective in stopping the seizures.

The original post I saw on FaceBook, accompanying the above video, read like this:
Washington Post covers medical cannabis for pediatric epilepsy. What are your thoughts? How far would you go to save your child? We were happy, and a little nervous to tell our story so publicly. But I feel it is absolutely necessary. Families need to know this is an option, and they can work with their medical team to make the best decision for their child. ♥ Heather
I must confess I had some trouble grasping exactly why this family was at all nervous to tell their story, why they weren't, instead, just singing it from the rooftops.

But, hey, I am a lawyer by training so not totally clueless - yeah, yeah, I get that whole "illegal in some states" thing compounded with the likely cries of "Oh my God, what kind of parent would give children as young as toddlers marijuana on a daily basis? For heaven sake, call Child Protective Services immediately!". There's some in every crowd, you know ... but that, too, is a story best saved for another day.

So. Shortly after watching (and raving) about the above video, I found this one in my news feed.

Now I might disagree with the good researcher when he states that they know how most of the current anti-epileptic drugs work or don't work (and, by the by, he actually contradicts himself later in the interview when he notes most of the most effective anti-epileptic drugs were discovered by accident and they don't have clearly defined mechanisms of action for many of today's drugs), but to me, that is much less relevant than his comments on the "ethical issue" of giving marijuana to toddlers

After the interviewer notes that at a "headline level", the issue was still very much giving medical marijuana for toddlers, he asks the good doctor if he had any "ethical" issues with this. Apparently he does, "very much so", in fact, based on a long-term New Zealand study of people who had used marijuana, which found that the only group that showed permanent cognitive damage was moderate to heavy users of marijuana during adolescence.

Like it or not, not exactly a surprising result. But as noted in the interview, this study was looking at the effects of THC. And as noted in the first video, these plants are being bred to specifically lower the level of THC and increase the level of CBD.

I can understand accept that doctors require their double-blind studies and believe they "need to know" how/why a substance works before recommending it to their patients. But it's one thing to clinically speak of the 35% of patients with "difficult to control seizures" and quite another to actually be one of that 35%.

Because, trust me, until you have actually lived that, You. Have. No. Clue.

I wonder how many people will only hear and remember those headline comments. I wonder how many people out there will actually listen to the entire interview, the defining moment of truth of which comes only at the end

When asked if he, personally, would use marijuana for his child, the answer was more than telling.
If that were my child and I had a child with difficult to control seizures and knowing the risk of uncontrolled seizures, if I had something that would control those seizures without any obvious major adverse effects on the child, that would be, as my personal decision, I would do it. Not as a clinical recommendation, as a parent myself.
. . . 
Now if that was a child of mine and somebody offered me a less than perfect but effective treatment, I am going to say yes to it.
Why? Because the good doctor is well aware of the risks of status epilepticus  and SUDEP (Sudden Unexplained Death in Epilepsy - a phenomena they tend not to tell parents about, by the way) and that the risks of these things happening dramatically increase in a person with poorly controlled seizures.

End of the day (and you will, no doubt, be happy to know, end of this post), the bottom line in is that if a new treatment for epilepsy that has thing kind of success rate can be found, naysayers, busy bodies and governments need to get the hell out of the way. Because, believe me, unless you live it, you. have. no.clue.

Saturday, April 13, 2013

Blog Roll Blues

It is with great sadness that we hereby announce the paring down of Ye Olde Blog Roll [It's Eclectic]. From it's former splendor of 25 blogs, it now boasts but 18.

Which might not sound too bad but for the fact that of that 18, roughly only half, at the most (being generous) can boast any new content on a semi-regular basis.

'Tis a sad, sad day.

Fortunately, we do still have "The Best of the Best" from Neptunus Lex and the Neptunus Lex Super FB page (first rule of the NeptunusLex Super Secret FB page - don't talk about the Neptunus Lex Super Secret FB page) to read.

* My apologies for the pic - but as noted, 'tis a sad, sad cheesy kind of day.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Best. April. Fools. Evah.

Reposted from Lex's in honour of April Fools - in my mind, this is one of (if not) the best April Fools jokes I have seen (let alone been subjected to).

But in many ways, the best part is found in the comments - just how long can it take some people to figure this out?

It's. A. Joke. Folks.  :D

Bad news
By lex, on April 1st, 2007 
I’m sorry to have to share this with you, but it looks like we may have to amend the terms of our relationship: I guess I finally crossed the line. Something I wrote earlier in the week offended some Very Important People who made official representation of their objections through political channels and finally down through my chain of command. I got the call yesterday – it’s never good news to get called by your boss on a Saturday. Had to happen eventually I suppose, but I kind of hoped my tattered veil of anonymity could outlast my active service. 
Now, many of you know that I have been blogging under a pseudonym in order to protect those I work for from having to officially recognize the source of these my musings, thereby lending them even the patina of official endorsement from the USG, DoD or DoN. The problem – as I very well knew from the beginning – is that there really isn’t any such thing as anonymity on the net. The world is full of people looking for a reason to take offense, and if you hang out on the web long enough, eventually you’ll make somebody angry, a complaint will get lodged and, well: Here we are. 

Friday, March 29, 2013


It's flummoxed, I am.

You see, the calendar (and my darling daughter, herself) tells me, in no uncertain terms, that my oldest is
twenty years old today.

Twenty? Seriously? You've GOT to be kidding me ...

I didn't really mind when she turned nineteen - sure, it seemed a little hard to believe but not that big of a deal. At least, not as big of a deal as her turning twenty.

Yeah, yeah,  I am well aware that in the eyes of the law, she became an adult last year.

But twenty? My kid is twenty??



Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Purple Day is fast approaching.

And Purple Day is a bit of a big thing around here, as you might recall.

Meaning right at the moment I am up to my eyeballs in posters, buttons, wallet cards, Purple Daisies, brochures, pamphlets, bookmarks, pens, stickers ... the list goes on.

And cupcakes, of course ... right, never forget the cupcakes!

So while we here at Free Falling prepare to do our small part in the grand endeavour to paint the world Purple ...

Please remember to Wear Purple on March 26th.

And have A Very Coole Purple Day.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

On Dreaming

Once upon a time, I asked Lex if he would ever fly again. The question was asked while he was still actively serving, but a few years after he had strapped on a Hornet for the last time. It was beyond clear how much he loved and missed flying so I asked if he would ever consider flying a bugsmasher.

No, he replied, he wouldn't. Something to the effect that having once partaken of government-sponsored crack cocaine, there was no going back to mere commercial flight. I remember thinking that the only cure for that kind of drug must be complete withdrawal.

And it seemed like a reasonable enough response at the time - even though not in my frame of reference (I would jump at the chance to fly any aircraft, bugsmasher or not), I could accept that from his point of view, there simply was no going back.
There was a time and place
Not far from here and now
Maybe a brighter day
Maybe they had it made somehow
Living for there and then
Under a psychadelic spell
No one was listening
Still they had so much to tell 
But isn't it how funny how time changes things?

Whatever happened to the dreamers
They always look beyond the sky
Saw a world they could believe in
But only when they close their eyes  
A mere few years later, Lex took on a weekend job flying tourists and other assorted types in dog-fights, with the occasional learn to fly jaunt thrown in for good measure. And it wasn't long after that, when he took on the challenge of learning to pilot taildraggers.

Next thing I knew, he was back in the fighter pilot game.
There were the politcians
Men of the cloth, painters and poets
Starting a revolution
Without even knowing
Making the world around us
Making heaven and hell
Saying so much about us
Still they had so much to tell  
You left us much, much too soon, sir.

But you left us living your dream. And for that, I will be forever grateful.
Whatever happened to the dreamers
They always looked beyond the sky
Saw a world they could believe 
only when they close their eyes
Where are they nowThey've all left town
Bringing the clouds    
Why are we on our own, why are we on our own  
Nothing's ever been this way before
A dream is just a dream and nothing more
Nothing's ever been this way before
A dream is just a dream and nothing more
But that I can follow your example and, no matter what, never give up on my dreams.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

More Good News on the "Hate Speech" Front

You might recall that I was very pleased when the move was made to remove sec. 13 from the Canadian Human Rights Act last year.

Well, I was even more pleased when I learned today that the Supreme Court of Canada (SCC) has now weighed in on the wording of a similar provision in Saskatchewan's Human Rights Code.

The facts of the case are notorious. After William Whatcott distributed flyers condemning homosexuality using very strong language, the Saskatchewan Human Rights Tribunal found that that his actions breached sec. 14(1)(b) of the Code, which prohibits the publication of printed matter that “exposes or tends to expose to hatred, ridicules, belittles or otherwise affronts the dignity of any person or class of persons” because of sexual orientation.

Although the SCC upheld part of that provision as constitutional and not a violation of Whatcott's freedom of expression under the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it found that the prohibition against ridicule, belittlement or affronts to dignity did not meet constitutional muster.

The Court held that those words are not synonymous with hatred, which was defined as “whether a reasonable person, aware of the context and circumstances, would view the expression as likely to expose a person or persons to detestation and vilification on the basis of a prohibited ground of discrimination”. Thus, the Court made clear that it is unconstitutional to prohibit speech that is something less than detestation and vilification.

Finally, the SCC held that although freedom of religion (Whatcott argued that his flyers were motivated by his sincere religious beliefs) and religious speech have broad protection like the freedom of expression, at the same time, that speech cannot expose vulnerable groups to detestation and vilification, even if it is sincerely-held.

Although it will fall to the politicians to ultimately (hopefully) remove remaining "hate speech" provisions from Canadian human rights legislation, the SCC decision at least clarifies that
  • the test of hatred must be applied objectively (i.e., the reasonable person aware of the relevant context and circumstances), not based on the subjective views of the publisher or the victim; and
  • hatred” involves two concepts—detestation and vilification, which enforce the legislative objectives of anti-discrimination laws.  
I guess all we can do now is await the political process. Bill C-304, which would repeal the hate speech provision in the Canadian Human Rights Act (and which provision the Federal Court found largely constitutional in October, 2012),  has passed the House of Commons and is currently being debated in the Senate.

In Alberta, Premier Redford promised during her leadership campaign to repeal the equivalent Alberta provision.

Any other Province care to step forward and be heard?

~  ~  ~  ~

By the by, writing this post got me to thinking about our good friend (term used loosely), Rev. Stephen Boissoin, whose case (last we checked) was winding its way through the courts.

I am pleased to say that the good Reverend (again, using the term loosely) was successful, both in Alberta's Court of Queen Bench and the Court of Appeal, where the Court held that “matters of morality, including the perceived morality of certain types of sexual behavior, are topics for discussion in the public forum,” and “freedom of speech does not just protect polite speech.”

In the words of Jonathan Kay, "Just so".

Sunday, March 3, 2013

He Has The Whole World in His Hand

I came across a picture today that I thought was kind of cool.

So, tell me, what do you think?

Yeah, sure, I know ... nice snap for sure but not really that big of deal, right? Certainly not enough to get an honourable blog mention.

Are you sure about that?

JEFF FRIESEN has jumped the rails with his version of taking the train across Canada.
Instead of getting aboard a Via Rail locomotive, he carries a miniature replica of a train with him, sets it down on a miniature track in a landscape and takes a picture for his series, The Canadian: Ghost Train Crossing Canada.
.  .  .

The train, five centimetres tall and not quite three metres long, is a replica of the 1959 Canadian, the first train to “almost cross Canada.” It went from Montreal to Vancouver. As a vintage train, it is “a ghost from another age.”

And he's photographed that same train streaking by the turquoise water of Lake Louise, crossing the canola fields of the Prairies, disappearing into a rock tunnel in Ontario and crossing a moss-covered log bridge in Quebec.

Apparently the photos have went viral in Europe and the US, which begs the question of why that hasn't yet occurred in Canada.

You have to admit, pretty cool, right?

And not bad for a Canadian, let alone a Nova Scotian, eh?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Humpty Meets Dumpty. Again.

Having a particular interest in special education (gee, I wonder why), I subscribe to a couple of Education newsletters. They're both US-based, of course, but something is better than nothing, says I.

So it was that today I came across a synopsis in Education Week stating that a Tennessee Senator wants to pass a law requiring counselors and other school officials who learn that a student has engaged in homosexual activity to report this information to the parents. Thinking that this sounded interesting in a warped sort of way (and admitting that the thought that some right-wing politician strikes again did cross my mind), I clicked on the story.

The only thing is that (in my reading, at least) the story doesn't quite work as advertised - what the synopsis and article purport to say and what the proposed Bill actually says simply do. not. mesh.

The proposed Bill, you see, would provide that
  1. classroom instruction, course materials and other informational resources that are "inconsistent with natural human reproduction" will be classified as" inappropriate" for students from pre-K - Gr 8;
  2. any counseling by a school counselor, nurse, principal or assistant principal of a student who is "engaging in, or who may be at risk of engaging in, behavior injurious" to their or another's "physical or mental health and wellbeing" must be done, if possible, in consultation with the student's parents and the parents must be notified that such counseling has occurred; and
  3. the parents must be notified of a student "whose circumstances present immediate and urgent safety issues involving human sexuality".
And that, right there, is the problem, you see. Or, at least, the problem I see.

Because, for me at least, a requirement that the parents be notified in the case of a student whose "circumstances present immediate and urgent safety issues involving human sexuality" is very different from requiring notification in the case of homosexual activity. This despite the fact that it would appear that the good Senator, himself, might believe otherwise.

Admitting that, if perhaps you are a total homophobic, you might consider any and all homosexual activity to present immediate and urgent safety issues involving human sexuality, might I suggest that just because you say it or think it does not make it so?

Don't get me wrong, I am not making a comment on the "rightness", "wrongness" or "morality" of homosexuality; what I am saying is I find it very hard (read: impossible) to make the stretch that would equate homosexuality with "urgent safety issues".

The Senator, apparently, considers homosexuality to constitute an urgent safety issue because of the possibility of contracting HIV and AIDS. Putting aside the rather awkward fact that you can also contract HIV through heterosexual contact, doesn't any form of sexual activity open you up to the possibility of contracting various sexually-transmitted diseases (some of them pretty nasty, by the way)?

And, by the by, doesn't heterosexuality by a female open her up to the possibility of pregnancy, which some might see as potentially dangerous (be it physically, emotionally or mentally) depending on the age of said female? We are, after all, talking about students here.

But. Back to my original point (yes, of course, I had one; why do you ask?).

Much along the lines of 'Humpty Dumpty Strikes Again', just because you say it doesn't make it so. And, just as an aside, when you attempt to legislate, you might just want to choose your words carefully. Or else you may just run the risk of legislating "human reproduction" right out of existence, which I'm thinking might have some might nasty consequences, in and of itself.

The Law of Unintended Consequences being what it is.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Knee Meet Jerk

A knee jerk reaction is defined as:
an immediate unthinking emotional reaction produced by an event or statement to which the reacting person is highly sensitive; - in persons with strong feelings on a topic, it may be very predictable.
Synonyms (or perhaps more accurately, symptoms) include:
pavlovian response, absence of thought, automatic reaction,gut reaction, involuntary impulse
So what do you think? Generally speaking ... a good or bad thing?

Now tell me what you think of this.

A 17-year-old high school student has been suspended (and might face expulsion) for writing a dark poem that mentioned the massacre at Sandy Hook Elementary School.  Her "crime" was, perhaps, one line in the poem; namely a statement that she understood what drove Adam Lanza to do what he did.

But since I'm a big fan of context, let's see how the poem actually read.

They wanna hold me back.
I run, but they still attack.
My innocence, I won't get back.
I use to smile.
They took my kindness for weakness.
The silence the world will never get.
I understand the killings in Connecticut.
I know why he pulled the trigger.
The government is a shame.
Society never wants to take the blame.
Society puts these thoughts in our head.
Misery loves company.

Her poem actually reminds me of something I read in a high school English class. An assigned reading. I can't quite recall now whether it was meant to be a suicide note or something written and handed in by the young man as part of a class assignment, shortly before he hung himself but I believe the latter.

At any rate, that poem has stuck with me my whole life. Not the exact words, of course, but the ideas, the pictures and thoughts remain bright in my mind.

Written in the the third person, the poem told the story of a little boy who started school so full of energy, curiosity and a desire to learn. So full of life. It goes on to tell what the school experience was like from his perspective and although my memory falters in some places, the ending remains crystal clear. Essentially, from his perspective, school had sucked all the colour out of life (starting with things as simple as being repeatedly told to "colour within the lines" in the primary grades), emphasizing demanding conformity in writing, dress and actions. It the end, it sucked the very life out of him.

That was assigned reading in a high school English class and despite the subject matter, it was a very good poem. Both from the perspective of how it was written and because it accomplished what I believe literature, at its best, is meant to accomplish: it made you stop and think. To this day, that little boy still comes back to haunt me.

Now, you might quite rightly point out that poem was assigned in a different time - a time when "school shootings" were unheard of, at any level. In a more innocent time, a time when parents felt safe sending their children to school. When horrors such as Sandy Hook were unimaginable, even in the movies. So it was.

But one of my immediate reactions when I first read that poem (which has stuck with me to this day and makes me think that it was something the young man handed in at school before he took his own life) was to wonder why ... why no one had paid attention to what he had to say, why no one could hear his scream for help, why he was simply given a grade and handed the poem back.

Much like reading the article about Courtni Webb and her poem makes me wonder why.

Why, if the school took this matter so seriously, did they simply suspend her? Did anyone sit down and actually talk to her before this decision was made? Was the first question that crossed administration's mind really "Should we suspend her"? Really? Seriously?

Did it occur to anyone to actually express some concern about the girl, herself? If the poem is to be interpreted as the school so obviously has, shouldn't there have some concern for the state of her mental health? Did we learn nothing from Sandy Hook? Other than that lesson pounded into granite for so many years? Cover. Your. Ass.

But you know what?

I really doubt whether anyone talked too much to Courtni about what she may or may have been thinking when she wrote this poem. But realizing that I am only basing this on the short interview I've watched where Courtni explained the poem, how about if you tell me what you think.

Sociopathic killer? Potential mass murderer? Possibly, I suppose. We are all well aware that we live in a world where anything, indeed, is possible.

Or, perhaps, merely (an apparently bright) high school student using her writing to work through her feelings?

I didn't hear a threat of violence in her words. Which has to make me wonder if the blunt mechanism of suspension was not used because she supposedly somehow violated a zero-tolerance policy or because of a perceived threat of violence, as alleged but simply to "punish" the young woman for her lack of good taste in writing such things so soon after all those little children were so senselessly murdered.

Either way, whether Courtni was actually contemplating violence or simply writing a poem, threatening and intending to threaten no one, if that poem caused concern for those who knew her, the first priority should have been (and should continue to be) her mental health.

Knee. Meet. Jerk.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

It's Baaaack ...

That's right - your dreams have been answered. Year in a Blog is back.

You know the drill ... the first sentence (or paragraph, depending on my mood) of the first post for each month of 2012. Drum roll please ...

January 2012 - Come on. I double dog dare you. Try it. Forget twenty times. Just once. As fast as you can.

February 2012 - Wow, check this out - a man who was upset that a Tennessee couple unfriended his adult daughter has been charged with killing the couple.

March 2012 - I really shouldn't be here. The hour is late ... very late ... and I have to work tomorrow. But that is what happens when you spend a couple of hours floating around the internets, reading and responding to tributes to a man you've never even "met". But that you knew so well. Oh well, something tells me sleep will be a might bit difficult tonight this morning anyway.

April 2012 - Time goes on. As does life, doesn't it?
And although time doesn't really heal all wounds, it does tend to provide a protective coating, a scab, if you will. Which, I suppose, is why it hurts so bad if and when that scab, for whatever reason, gets ripped off.

May 2012 - Today's the day. It's here. It. Has. Arrived. Most definitely. I think.

June 2012 - I've always suspected it. And now I have proof! All Some good things do come to those who wait.

July 2012 - So, here we go again ... what's up with some people's apparent need to define words however they think they should be defined, either because it suits their own immediate purposes or ... it gets them in the news, perhaps? Hell, if I know.

August 2012 - 1. It's too hot.

September 2012 - There was absolutely no doubt when I stepped outside on Sunday - we have definitely entered my favourite time of the year.

October 2012 -  crickets

November 2012 -  I must admit I am quite disappointed in myself.

December 2012 -

Happy New Year

But remember, what we write is up to us: