Thursday, January 31, 2008

The Ship of Life

This one's for you, doorkeeper.
Courtesty of Eileen

Along the shore I spy a ship
As she sets out to sea;
She spreads her sails and sniffs the breeze
And slips away from me.

I watch her fading image shrink,
As she moves on and on,
Until at last she’s but a speck,
Then someone says, “She’s gone.”

Gone where? Gone only from our sight
And from our farewell cries;
That ship will somewhere reappear
To other eager eyes.

Beyond the dim horizon’s rim
Resound the welcome drums,
And while we’re crying, “There she goes!”
They’re shouting, “Here she comes!”

We’re built to cruise for but a while
Upon this trackless sea
Until one day we sail away
Into infinity.
John T. Baker

Patience is a Virtue

Or so they say.

At any rate, it seems to be one that I never seem to have quite mastered. The funny thing is that I would have thought I would have by now. We went through so much with the Blue Jay when she was litttle. Uncontrolled seizures. Regression. Early intervention. Speech therapy. Neurologists. Numerous hospital stays. Respite workers. The ketogenic diet. And then one of the funnest of them all, school. Sheesh, I get tired just typing about it now.

But I would have thought, through all that, all that teaching and therapy and what-not, that somewhere in there, I would have been forced to learn to be patient. Nah, not so much.

And now I find, I think I am finally learning it. Or perhaps more aptly, I'm being forced into learning it, kicking and screaming like a spoiled child as I go. Fortunately (for the rest of the world), the majority of the kicking and screaming is going on inside my head. But I am being forced to learn to be more patient now, as I deal with mom's problems, then I ever was before.

Yes, I know how to advocate. Yes, I know how to fight the system to get what I believe somebody deserves. But somehow, somewhere, I seem to have lost my energy to do it. I think I am just burnt out. Well, they always told me it would happen.

But more than being forced to learn to be patient with the system (nah, I'm still not doing so well with that), I am learning how to be more patient with mom. To wait. And wait. And bite my tongue to stop the smart remark that is right there. Not because I'm trying to or want to be mean. But it seems to be the way I've been for a long time. Now, it's learning to take yet another deep breath. And try again.

Frankly, it kind of sucks.

But. Maybe it's just another one of those life experiences you (have to) go through to get wherever it is you are going. Or at least that's what I try to tell myself. When all else fails ... Rationalize. That's my motto. That and God never closes a door without opening a window.

Gee, it's getting a little stuffy in here. I wonder where that window is.

Round and Round We Go

There's a blog I like to visit daily. It's on the sidebar. Take 5.
Punky d has a had a few links to those Tom Cruise/Scientology videos that are all the rage on the net lately. One link is to Cruise's video, the other is a parody. That last one is rather funny ... in a scary kind of way.

I use to really like Cruise ...well, he's not that hard on the eyes, is he? And say what you will, he has done some pretty good movies. Admittedly, not so much lately. He has gotten a little [ahem] strange. Maybe that's what happens when you start believing your own press.

And I must admit that I hadn't given too much thought to where those videos came from or why. After all, there will always be someone out there with a bone to pick. Such is the price of fame, we say. As I said at LawEddie's yesterday, I think the explosion of technology just gives all of us more opportunities to behave badly.

But I thought it was interesting when I came across this. Apparently, anonymous hackers have released a new video declaring war on Scientology.
Whether you support the right of Scientology to exist as a religion or believe is should be crushed as a dangerous cult, the unique issue posed is the ability of dissenters to use the Internet to literally seek the destruction of a multibillion-dollar enterprise. New media is going beyond the power that traditional journalists have had to disseminate information in a way to achieve desired objectives. Perhaps more significantly, it is being done without hiding behind fictitious “objective reporting” claims. The goal — destruction of Scientology — is clearly stated.
Well, that might explain a few things. You can check out the hacker's rather interesting video at Business Lawyer Blog. And for any 'conspiracy theorisists' out there, consider this.
In fact, Lakhani’s analysis, written before the hackers released their video, raises an interesting possibility. If publicizing persecution is a way to attract members to a cult, this hacker video indirectly promotes Scientology. Could it be that Scientologists released it as a manipulative Internet marketing tool? Stay tuned.
Around and round we go. I guess some would have us believe that you can't take anything at face value anymore.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008


For me?
Why, you shouldn't have.

Free Fallin by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers
by Erika Brooks Adickman
a crayon video

But thanks. That was really sweet.

H/T to the Blue Jay

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Joie de vivre

I got this email from my neice today.

As you probably know, I'm leaving for Europe on Feb 19th. [My friend] and I will be doing two months of backpacking, hitting up as much of Western Europe as we can and a bit of the Eastern part as well. After that's done (and we're completely broke!) we'll be saying goodbye in Brussels as she leaves for Canada and I'll be spending the following 7 months experiencing the 'joie de vivre' in Belgium. So, as I'm not expecting to have enough time, money (to spent on internet cafes) or even the mental capacity to email everyone individually, I've made a blog that you can check out if you happen to have a fleeting thought of 'that little brunette girl' and might be curious as to what she's been up to...

I think I hate her...

I made a similar (albeit much shorter - parts of 3 months) trip after my first year of college. So I hope know that she will have a blast. But I still hate her.

Too bad I don't have a 'Label' for Jealousy

How To Beat The Stats

The statistics are dismal. And depressing.

  • In Canada, the total divorce rate peaked at 362 divorces per 100,000 inhabitants in 1987.
  • In 2000, the divorce rate was 231 per 100,000 inhabitants.
  • After three years of marriage, the divorce rate was at its highest, at 26.2 per 1,000 couples. The risk of divorce declined slightly with each passing year after that.

And Statistics Canada figures from 2003 show the number of Canadians getting divorced more than once is on the rise.

  • The number of marriage breakups involving husbands who have been divorced at least once tripled in three decades.
  • In 2003, 16.2 per cent of husbands getting divorced had at least one previous divorce, while in 1973, the rate was 5.2 per cent.
  • Similarly, divorces involving wives who had previously been divorced rose from 5.4 per cent in 1973 to 15.7 per cent in 2003.

Do you think things are much better south of the border?

  • The last-reported U.S. divorce rate for a calendar year, available as of May, 2005, is 0.38% divorces per capita per year, the provisional estimate for the year 2005 from the National Center for Health Statistics.
  • The Census Bureau's often-cited "50%" rate, the proportion of marriages taking place right now that will eventually divorce, which has since been revised downward to roughly 43% by the National Center for Health Statistics but was moved back up to around 50% by the Census Bureau in 2002, with even more ifs ands and buts than usual. Most recently, according to the New York Times, it has been revised downward to just over 40%.

With numbers like that, just how does a couple just starting out beat the odds, you ask?

By having a little fun, of course!

H/T to Dar

Monday, January 28, 2008

Just In Time For The Election Cycle

John Grisham.
Either you like him or you don't.

Or you use to like him but not really anymore.

Or maybe you use to really like him, got tired of him for a while but then started to like some of his newer stuff again. That latter one would be me. I really enjoyed most of his writing for quite a while. Especially The Firm, The Pelican Brief, The Client and The Partner. Until they all started to feel the same. Just a different story.

So I took a break from him for quite a while, then after a long respite, I read The Broker. Which, seeing as how I was into CIA books at the time, was okay. A while later, I tried The Last Juror. That one didn't really work for me. It felt like it rambled and rambled (enjoyable enough during the rambling, but I kept wondering how/when it would get where it was suppose to go) and then ... it kind of ended in a hurry. Disappointing.

But now I see he's come out with another new book. Back to the legal thrillers, it would seem.
“The Appeal” is John Grisham’s handy primer on a timely subject: how to rig an election. Blow by blow, this not-very-fictitious-sounding novel depicts the tactics by which political candidates either can be propelled or ambushed and their campaigns can be subverted. Since so much of what happens here involves legal maneuvering in Mississippi, as have many of his other books, Mr. Grisham knows just how these games are played. He has sadly little trouble making such dirty tricks sound real.
According to this review, Grisham makes no secret of his personal politics, 'a little to the left'. Which might explain the book's keen ear for the baloney of biased rhetoric, particularly when it comes from the right. But baloney is baloney in my book. Might just be worth a read.

H/T to How Appealing by way of the The California Bleg Blog of Appeal

When You're In, You're In ...

... and when you're out, you're out.

Or so says Stephen Harper, apparently.

Harper adopted Manley's call for a continuation of the mission until the insurgency in southern Afghanistan is pacified enabling more training of Afghan security forces and economic development.

Harper said Canada's long-term continued participation hinges not only on NATO coming up with more troops, but on his own government supplying heavy transport helicopters, and unmanned surveillance drones.

Harper said the Manley report recognizes that there are few options that "essentially you're either in or you're out, and if you're in, you actually have to be in a much bigger way."
So here's what I would really like to know. Harper has said that both recommendations [proper equipment for the trips and NATO supplying an additional 1,000 soldiers for the south of Afghanistan] will have to be fulfilled or Canada will not proceed with the mission. That these are essential to our success.

"While the case for the Afghan mission is clearly compelling, the decision to allow our young men and women in uniform to continue to be in harm's way demands the responsibility to give them a strong chance of success," Harper said.

- - - - - - -

"Canada has done what it said it would do and more," Harper said. " We now say we need help. If NATO can't come through with that help, then frankly I think NATO's own reputation and future will be in grave jeopardy."
Show of hands, please. How many think that just reeks BLUFF?

That was my initial response but when I gave it some more thought, I realized that it could be just about perfect, from a political point of view.

IF NATO doesn't pony up, Harper has the perfect 'out'; it won't be his fault, it was simply that we couldn't count on our allies and he stepped forward, brave soul that he is, to protect Canada's sons and daughters.

BUT if the stars somehow align and both troops and equipment materialize, once again he is the 'good guy'. Not only did his government not cut and run, not only did we kept our commitments and honour our dead soldiers by continuing their mission, but at the same time he can make his competition look bad. After all, he, good statesman that he is, appointed a 'blue ribbon' panel, the head of which was one of them, and followed its recommendations. Cue to sing 'O Canada'.

I believe the correct term is 'political expediency".

Mr. Harper, some words of advice.

When you're up, you're up.
And when you're down, you're down
And when you're only half way up, You're neither up nor down.

Just so you know.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Happy Fried-Day

That's right. Happy Fried-Day. And why not?
I mean as long as there's Blue Monday, why shouldn't the first Friday immediately after be Happy Fried-Day?

I'm with this guy.

Here’s hoping Fried-Day marks the deepest emotional pothole of 2008, that the worst is in the rear-view mirror already. But frankly, the news is not helping to lift the mood. Everything seems like such tough slogging. The economy is in crisis. The environment is in crisis. The Middle East is in crisis. The health-care system is in crisis. When the bloody alarm goes off in the morning, it feels like a crisis.
Personally, I hope this is "the deepest emotional pothole of 2008", given that I'm sick and feel so god-awful today. Funny how sick as I am (and believe me, I am) I can still manage to blog though.

As predicted, the Manley report concerning Canada's future role in Afghanistan was released this week. The report itself seems fairly sensible, or is that middle of the road, concluding that Afghanistan has made economic and social progress in spite of its deteriorating security situation and that the mission is a worthy cause. After all, contributing to international security, improving the quality of life in one of the world’s most long-suffering countries and restoring Canada’s leadership role in global affairs all sound worthwhile, don't they?

Manley called on the combat mission to be extended beyond its current deadline of February 2009, on two conditions:

•The UN’s International Security Assistance Force sends 1,000 more soldiers to Kandahar province, enabling Canadian forces to accelerate training of the Afghan National Army.
•The government secures medium-lift helicopters and high-performance, unmanned aircraft to help soldiers avoid the deadly scourge of roadside bombs.

Manley suggested Ottawa take these two demands to NATO and draw a clear line in the sand, either 1,000 additional troops are provided by February, 2009 or we pull out. Perhaps most importantly, political parties were urged to wait to see what happens at a NATO summit in Romania in April before making any decisions in Parliament.

To keep the balance, the report also urged the Canadian government to play a more robust non-military role in the country. Apparently only 47 Canadian government civilians are working in Afghanistan — compared with 2,500 soldiers. Add that to the fact that Canadian diplomats appear to be muzzled and aid workers who volunteer to go to Kandahar are then prevented from leaving the base to work on reconstruction projects. As a good friend of mine is want to say, 'Things that make you go hmmm.'

Also as predicted, the politicians are having their usual fun in the park field day with it, with the Liberal, NDP and Bloc Quebecois leaders predictably reiterating their earlier 'preference' for a February 2009 overhaul of the mission. Despite not having actually read the report (why, oh why, would a person actually need to read something before criticizing it?) Stephan Dion, leader of the Liberal party, repeated (much like a stuck record) the party’s long-held position that Canada’s combat mission must end as scheduled in February 2009, although he conceded that Canada could continue to play a role in construction, training and humanitarian aid.

Apparently Bloc Leader Gilles Duceppe believes that Canadian and Quebec troops have done their part. Time to move on. Not surprisingly (and depressingly for me), the NDP was most dismissive of the report and reiterated its call for a 2009 pullout.

"At a time when Canada should be drastically changing course to help the Afghan people build a lasting peace in the region, this report is recommending more of the same," said NDP Leader Jack Layton. "The combat role is the wrong role for Canada and it’s not making life more secure for Afghans."
Putting the politicians aside (in a locked room, if possible), other response to the report appears much more positive, at least in Nova Scotia. The families of Canadian soldiers killed in Afghanistan praised Manley's report, with several parents and spouses saying that they were pleased with the exhaustive document. Now you don't suppose our politicians could learn something from that, do you? Especially considering that it's these very same families that the pols are oh-so-concerned about.

The real problem (besides the political posturing, made all the more difficult for the Liberals given the fact that Manley is one of their own) was pointed out by a relative of one of our injured soldiers - the report merely restates a message that has been relayed repeatedly to NATO officials without results — that Canada needs more help from its allies in the country’s restive southern region. That's something we have been calling for for months with little response. I wonder what the chances are of that non-response changing now? Come on, fellow NATO-allies, isn't it really, finally, time to put up?

And how can I tell that it really is Fried-Day, you ask?

As definitive proof, I offer you this. For no reason other than to add insult to injury, I suppose, while researching the links for this post, I came across this. Now there's something that could (and no doubt will) get me going. But not today. After all, it's Fried- Day. And I'm already sick.

"Any idiot can face a crisis; it is this day-to-day living that wears you out."
Russian playwright Anton Chekhov


I found this beautiful winter poem and thought it might be a comfort to you. It was to me, and it's very well written.


a poem by Abigail Elizabeth McIntyre

' Sumbitch It's Cold ! '

The End

H/T to Bobby

Thursday, January 24, 2008

I Have A Dream ... Do You?

Sara, from Balancing Act, following up on the American holiday of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, suggested we all try our own version of "I Have A Dream".

I'm not much at either poetry or speech writing, but I'm honoured to give it a try.
I have a dream ...

I have a dream that one day individuals with disabilities will truly be accepted into society, in every way imaginable. Not just with lip service, but to the extent that if someone were to actually mention the word 'inclusion'; the use of that term alone would raise eyebrows.

I have a dream that one day we will all care more about people than about possessions. That, as corny as it may sound, the world will finally, collectively, straighten out its value system.

I have a dream that one day we will all realize the value in helping to take care of those who need more help. And make sure that there are the necessary programs and services available. Be it the elderly, the very young or the disabled ... that we will always hold in our hearts that 'There, but for the grace of God, go I'.

I have a dream that my children will grow up as happy and healthy as possible. So that one day I can sit back, put my feet up, take a deep breath and think 'I must have done something right'.

I have a dream that, as a country, we will unite around our brave military and, for as long as necessary, always find a way to show them that no matter what we may think of the choices our politicians make, we know why they do what they do. And just how much we appreciate that.

I have a dream that the time will come when we will be able to see beyond our national borders and see ourselves as people and as citizens of the earth first. Before we see ourselves as Canadians, Americans, Europeans ...
Following Sara's tradition, I won't tag anyone but simply ask that you pass this along either via your blog or through e-mail. Renew the dream as it is a precious one.

Oh yeah, almost forgot one:
I have a dream that one day ... I will fly in a fighter jet.
Sorry, just couldn't resist that last one!

Men Are In Boxes, Women are ... Wired?!

Forget Men Are From Mars, Women Are From Venus.
This it explains it all so much better.

H/T to FbL at Neptunus Lex

So Many, So Young, So Sad

I don't care what anyone says, let the politicians do their thing. But do me a favour and please watch this video. All the way to the end.

It's a little long but it's the least we can do to honour their sacrifice.

H/T to Dar

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Check Six ... Jetstream Continues

I am really enjoying the Jetstream series.

Amazing flying shots, a story line that keeps moving and enough drama to keep things interesting. And always some form of teaser at the end of each episode. So far, two of the original seven are out, one by choice, one not. You have to feel bad for Floater, so close but so far away. And if I recall correctly, the irony ... he was the one that had the most experience, that had pulled more Gs more often than any other of the rookies. Damm that centrifuge! And now they say another will soon be gone ...

Seems like an awful short time for the amount they have to learn. And it's not just the rookies that cram a lot of information in; there's a fair bit of education for the viewer, too. For me, it was rather cool how a lot of what I saw and heard clicked what things I already knew. So it made a lot more sense. And for that, I say 'Thanks, Lex. For introducing me to an amazing world. And my thanks to the Discovery Channel, too, for letting me get a closer look at the Canadian side of it.

Definitely saving the best for last here.
There are some great video excerpts from the series on the right hand side of this page. Well worth watching even if you've caught every episode. They don't track exactly with the way the episodes were presented and some seem to actually have additional footage and commentary. With some great shots which look even better up close on my monitor than on the TV screen. I had missed the end of episode two, where call signs were assigned, so I got to pick that up too.

Which reminds me, Congrats to Capt. 'Blow' Jobin.

What's not to love?

Update: That second-to-last link seems to have moved. So try this one. It lets you watch some of the old episodes and 'play the game', too, apparently.

Monday, January 21, 2008

The Long Way Home Is Sometimes The Better Way

The global shock of 9/11 created broad international concern at the time that no country could remain immune to similar attacks from terrorist groups in the future; a consensus rapidly emerged that joint international action was required to eliminate such groups and their sanctuaries wherever they werel ocated. President George W. Bush unambiguously demanded that all countries align themselves as “either with the U.S. or against it” in the struggle. Canada initially responded to the challenge by mobilizing air and naval forces and then secretly sent Joint Task Force Two (JTF2) troops to Afghanistan in late 2001. A larger contingent of 750 Canadian soldiers was then sent to Kandahar in February 2002 for a period of six months. Afghanistan became a symbolically key state in the broader effort to deter radical Islamic jihadism, particularly given its past role as host to al-Qa’ida under the Taliban.
Seems like such a long time ago now. Almost a lifetime, in some ways. Funny how, as I recall, not too many had much trouble with the whole idea of the US invading Afghanistan to rout out the Taliban after 9/11. And I don't recall many, if any, having any problem with the idea of Canadian troops deploying to Afghanistan to do our part. Admittedly, Iraq was always a different story. But not Afghanistan.

So where are we now, over six years later and with 2,500 Canadian soldiers in country? Depending on who you want to believe, and how recently they were conducted, polls would tell us that anywhere from 50% to 60% of Canadians feel that our troops should be brought home as soon as possible. And why is that? Well, it might have something to do with the 78 young men and women that have been killed in a country so far away from home. Might. Yeah, right. Just might.
Canada took responsibility for Kandahar province after other NATO member countries volunteered to deploy to more secure provinces in 2004. In 2005, Canadian Forces moved to Kandahar, taking over an American Provincial Reconstruction Team (PRT), one of 24 PRTs now active in the country. The current Canadian mission consists of 2,500 troops in Kandahar; 30 CF personnel in Kabul, either working on specific security areas as liaison or embedded within a joint task force; and a 15 member strategic advisory team of military planners assisting the Afghan government. The deployment has been renewed until February 2009.

Canada has supported other stabilization and peacebuilding initiatives, notably in the area of demobilization, disarmament, and reintegration of ex-combatants (DDR). Canada supported the decommissioning of militia forces, the collection and storage of 12,000weapons, the destruction of ammunition stockpiles, de-mining, and landmine education.

Canadian involvement in Afghanistan first hit Canadian television screens in a major way when the CF moved to Kandahar to take on an active combat role in the more volatile and unstable south; they rapidly became the object of regular Taliban attacks, and CF began to sustain the heaviest casualties of any NATO participant in per capita terms.
Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition, the Liberals, believes that Canada should be looking at aid projects and other non-combat roles in Afghanistan when its current commitment expires in February, 2009, just about one year from now. Which is a bit of a backpedal from what they were saying a year or so ago actually, when they seemed to more strongly agree with the NDP position. Which has basically been, get the hell of out of Afghanistan. Now. And as I said, unfortunately, it appears that many Canadians agree with them.

Personally, I see what we, along with the other members of the NATO, are doing in Afghanistan as critically important. For a variety of reasons. For one thing, if we leave to early and let the Taliban regain their foothold, then what really have we accomplished at all in being there for six years? And wouldn't that mean, really, that all of our soldiers to say nothing of the countless number of Afghans themselves, have died in vain? Even looking at it from a purely 'selfish' point of view, have we made the world any safer for ourselves here in Canada?

There's also the fact that we supported the US actions in going into that country and 'bombing it back to the stone age', to borrow the popular phrase at the time. The country, the people for whom that is home, deserve to have some form of order restored to their lives. They also deserve to have what we, as an international community, promised them ... freedom, education for women and girls, a better life. Will we cut and run before we keep our promise?

Nothing saddens and distresses me more than hearing about the death of another Canadian soldier. It literally twists in my gut. But I don't see the answer, the solution, to our losses as being as simple as packing up and leaving. I know that's not what our men and women on the ground in Afghanistan believe. Nor is it what I believe. We will honour their deaths, their ultimate sacrifice only by finishing what we started. By keeping our promise to the Afghans, our allies and ourselves.

But as we draw closer and closer to another election, an election which is likely to turn in large part on the decision of what to do when our current mission in Afghanistan is complete, I become more and more troubled. With the US now planning to send 3,000 Marines to Afghanistan, I am hopeful that if we stay the course, we will accomplish our goal. I fear however that that situation ma well play out differently without the assistance of Canada.

And what exactly was up with US Defence Secretary Gates' recent comments as to the [in]effectiveness of NATO forces in the south of the country? Sure, he tried to back pedal:
[Gates] said "allied forces from the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands, Australia, Denmark and other nations have stepped up to the plate and are playing a significant and powerful role in Afghanistan."

"They have rolled back the Taliban from previous strongholds in the south. They are taking the fight to the enemy in some of the most gruelling conditions imaginable," Gates said.

"As a result of the valour and sacrifice of these allies, the Taliban have suffered significant losses and no longer hold real estate of any consequence."

Gates noted that sniping among allies has happened in previous conflicts, but he pointed out: "Our allies, including the Canadians, the British, the Dutch, the Australians and others, are suffering losses as they demonstrate valour and skill in combat."

Nice try, but when he states that his remarks were not directed at Canadians, the Brits, the Dutch or the Australians, you have to wonder ... who were they directed at? And that statement above, by the way, came only after a statement from Canada's Minister of Defence, Peter MacKay, that in a private phone call Gates had assured him he did not mean to malign Canadian troops in any way was refuted hours later by a Pentagon spokesman stating that Gates’ comments were directed at all NATO allies — and yes, that included Canada.

I thought that Scott Taylor's column today made some interesting points. He posits that Gates, being well aware of the vast regional ethnic diversity of Afghanistan, compared apples to oranges (the situation in the east of Afghanistan with the situation in the south, where Canadian troops are deployed) in an effort to placate a domestic U.S. audience. An audience of war-weary Americans who wonder why 3,200 additional Marines are now being deployed to Afghanistan to fight a war they were told was won in November 2001.
At first, the Pentagon told us it was Pakistan’s fault that the insurgency in Kandahar was being rekindled; now Gates is telling Americans that it’s actually NATO’s fault for not being aggressive enough.

Canadian officers, familiar with the way in which the fiasco in Kandahar evolved, have called Gate’s comments the "height of hypocrisy." Even American Special Forces soldiers who participated in the battles that cleared the Taliban from Kandahar in early 2002 admit that the U.S. strategy was flawed from the outset.

When I visited Kabul last January, I was introduced to a U.S. Navy SEAL who had been assigned as an adviser to the Afghan Northern Alliance. When he learned that I was a Canadian, he had insisted on paying for my drinks. "We sold you guys a bucket of crap down in Kandahar, and for that I apologize," he said.

The SEAL explained that after the Taliban were chased out of the region, the U.S. left just one battalion stationed at the Kandahar airfield and fewer than 500 soldiers in all of Helmand province. The Pentagon had been completely focused on the invasion of Iraq and, as a result, from 2002 to 2005, the once scattered Taliban were able to regroup and rearm.

Supplies and recruits came in from the Pakistani side of Pashtunistan, but the small U.S. garrison in Kandahar was only concerned with self-protection at the airfield itself. Thus, when Canada accepted the change of location from Kabul to Kandahar, the Americans knew that the Canadians were walking into a veritable hornet’s nest of insurgents.

Gates’ comments in the L.A. Times inverted this sequence of events and made it sound like everything had been going swimmingly until NATO took over and made a bollocks of things.
I don't necessarily agree with all of Taylor's opinions on Afghanistan and Canada's role there but I must say that biting the hand that, in this case, helps to feed you, probably wasn't Gates' smartest political move. In that, if nothing else, in addition to whatever effect his words might have in other NATO countries, he may have well made Canada's up-hill battle an even steeper climb.

Update: When I wrote this post, I hadn't realized that the Manley Report is due to be released tomorrow. Apparently it is thought to have a little something for everyone.

News reports say the five-member panel will recommend that Canada extend its military mission beyond the current February 2009 end date, reflecting the Conservative government's wishes.

But their analysis may also appeal to more dovish critics by keying on the faltering relief and reconstruction efforts, especially in southern Afghanistan, and recommending a greater focus on improving the lives of average Afghans at least through 2011.

At any rate, I have no doubt that it will serve to ramp up the rhetoric on both sides of the issue. Which is unfortunate considering that it is our brave soldiers and the innocent people of Afghanistan that will be caught in the middle. Let's just hope that Mr. Manley and his panel has given the matter the grave attention and respect it deserves and that politicians of all stripes can resist, or as least temper, since I am sure 'resist' is too much to ask, the urge to use the report for political grandstanding and more partisan politcs.

H/T to Canadians for Afghanistan

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Whose Rights Are We Protecting? And Just How Do We Get There?

There has been lot of talk about 'rights' lately. Are we infringing their rights? Are they infringing ours? Or, maybe in other words, who's in the right?

As I've said before, my take on that goes something like this.
First of all, where there is a right, there is also a corresponding responsibility. And secondly, my rights stop where your rights start. Meaning that although I am certainly entitled to my rights and to have them respected, that doesn't give me the right to infringe on your rights.

And individuals with disabilities are certainly entitled to their rights too, aren't they? The same rights as you and I enjoy. And perhaps even a few more ... like the right not to be discriminated against on the basis of their disability. Now before the big guns come out, let me tell what you what I'm pondering here.

The right of the disabled to parent and raise their own children.

On first blush, I suppose that may sound fairly straight forward. And common sense even. But it really does have to be weighed against the extent of the parent's disability, doesn't it?

Most, if not all, jurisdictions in the Western world now have the test in child protection proceedings as what is in the child's best interests. Ah yes, the magic words, the mantra even ... the child's best interests. Hard to argue with that one, isn't it? And who in their right mind would want to?

I suppose where the potential for break down comes in is in how that test is interpreted and applied. Does who is deciding what is in a particular child's best interests influence the answer?

I read a lot of child protection cases as part of my work and I am seeing more and more cases where disabled individuals are losing their parental rights. The majority of the ones I have reviewed have to do with parents with mental disabilities. And some of them are real heartbreakers. Where even the judge goes out of his way to repeatedly state that he realizes that these parents love their children, they are doing their absolute best to take care of them but quite simply ... it isn't good enough. Not good enough to protect the children from the potential of harm.

In others, the court is not perhaps not quite so appreciative or aware of how hard those parents are trying. And in others, I must confess, I have wondered at times if there isn't a 'built in' bias to the system ... do all the players lean, even unconsciously, to a predetermined viewpoint that the parents can't do the job? Did those parents ever really have a fair shot?

And now a story from the U.S. about a mother with a physical disability.

Sabreena Westphal, 40, says that she loves babies and has always wanted to be a mother. She has given birth to three children, yet has not had the opportunity to raise any of them. She is now fighting to retain parental rights and bring her daughter back home.

Westphal is disabled. She suffers from cerebral palsy and can not walk or fully use her arms, yet she still is fighting for the right to raise her youngest child after her two sons were taken from her and adopted 20 years ago.

I never realized that until the Americans with Disabilities Act was passed, disabled parents were automatically considered unfit to raise their children. Did you? At least now, apparently, they are given the opportunity to prove they are able.

Many parents with disabilities are able to care for their children. In more than 8 million families in the United States, there is at least one parent who is disabled. Westphal is unable to get out of bed without assistance and does not have a close circle of friends or relatives that she can rely on for assistance. Wince [Ed. the child's father] is still seriously ill and requires three dialysis treatments per week.

Still the couple is fighting to get their daughter back. It has been quite a struggle so far. The child custody case takes place in a court which is not near their home, and without a car or much money, it is difficult for them to attend all of their court dates. They say that their lawyers have failed to keep them informed of when their court dates are and of progress in the custody case. They also complain that the couple who is trying to adopt their daughter fails to bring her for court-ordered visitation.
Sounds like an uphill battle, doesn't it?
Despite all the obstacles to getting her daughter back, Westphal is not giving up. While she and Wince clearly need help raising their daughter if they should get her back, is it up to the county to hire help for them? Certainly with their limited income, they would be unable to afford this type of assistance on their own.

If a family court judge was to decide that it would be best for this child to be with her biological parents, clearly the county will have to provide some assistance to Westphal and Wince. Alternatively, if the court decides that the child should be adopted, Westphal will lose another child and likely the opportunity to fulfill her dreams of being a mother.
So then I had to wonder ... if the parents are unable to physically care for the child without help, does that mean that the court should decide that it is is in the child's best interests to be taken out of their care? Or, should we determining what is in this little girl's best interests based on a scenario where the parents will be provided with the help they need to take physical care of the child? But then again, if that scenario was ever a real possibility, the child would never have had to be taken out of the parents' care in the first place.

I have also watched, in amazement, as the flip side of this scenario has played out in the cases. Where a child psychologist led evidence to the effect that no normal family could possibly ever provide the level of care and attention that an autistic child needs. And thus, ipso facto, the child needs to be taken out of their care and placed for adoption.

So, let me get this straight ... although no 'normal' family, which we would expect to be the most motivated to provide the love, care and attention the child requires, can ever provide what this child needs we should expect the child to get the level of care and attention he needs in the foster care system? And then to find the adoptive families who are able to provide this level of care and attention ... apparently not just for this child but for every autistic child out there?

Hmm ... perhaps we're all a little more biased than we would like to admit. Excuse me, I think I have to go take a pill now. My head is starting to hurt. Real bad.

Canadian Political Compass

You might recall a previous post I did on the political compass.

Well, today I just realized that the same site has posted a Canadian political compass which shows you where the major Canadian parties sit. Thought it was kind of interesting.

So there you go. Now you know.

Interesting though. Looking back on my results, I think I am just about square with the NDP. Which use to make sense. I notice that this Canadian chart is dated 2005. And I use to be a big fan of the NDP. Not so much lately, though. Although I still like them provincially, I have less and less use for the federal party. They seem to be acting more and more stupid, like a spoiled child. And, perhaps, moving further to the left. I don't know for sure, but I do know they are definitely turning me off.

In wonder if new chart done today would show the federal NDP in a slightly different spot.

Saturday, January 19, 2008

Talent is ...

You know what they say. ..
Never Judge A Book By Its Cover.

I know I won't have any trouble remembing that any more.
What about you?

Friday, January 18, 2008

Percolating ... Still Percolating

Anyone remember those 'old-fashioned' coffee percolators? Mom use to have one when I was a kid, although I must admit that I didn't see it come out very often.

Anyway, that's kind of the way I feel lately. Like I've been percolating When I'm not the ball in the pinball machine, of course. . Lots of idea, things I want to write about. But they're all just bubbling around inside my head.

Like Canada's role in Afghanistan and what our 'next move' is likely to be. Stir in US Defence Secretary Gates' recent perhaps not-so-well-thought-out comments as to the effectiveness of NATO forces in the south of the country. [Research question: How fast can a politician actually backpedal?] A bitter brew, indeed. Bubble, bubble ...

Or how that issue of Canada's role in Afghanistan will likely affect my vote in the next federal election. It's one of the few only issues where I actually agree with our current minority Conservative government. Oh dear, that can't be good.

How about old sayings or email classics and the way we use them to rationalize the course our lives are taking? I've been thinking a lot about a couple of them lately ...

A woman is a lot like a tea bag. You only find out how strong she is when you put her in hot water.

God never gives us more than we can bear.
Do you think they're at least partially accurate? Are there days when they help us keep what's left of our sanity?

And then there's the one I've already crafted a title for ... 'Into The Abyss". Be afraid, be very afraid. Dare I take an honest look at the latest $1 million [gag] report on the Nova Scotia health care system? In the blogosphere? Where all can see?

Bubble, bubble, toil and trouble ...

But, alas, I'm afraid it might all be for naught.

All these great little conversations bumping around in my head? Merely percolating, it would seem. Apparently not quite ready to see the light of day. At the very least, they're being very coy, not quite ready to come out and face the music world.

Actually, I've noticed that my commute is a great time for blogging ideas. I wonder if anyone else finds that? I have great little conversations in my head as I'm driving down the highway in the morning, sunglasses on, radio blasting, coffee in hand. Now if only I had some sort of little electronic gadget that I could tape my thoughts into at those times. And at the end of the day, come home, plug it into the computer and have instant conversion to text. Because then it would be a lot easier to clean it up, add to it, flesh it out. But now, by the time I get home, I've pretty well had enough.

Oh well, this too shall pass .... right?
Please tell me I'm right.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Pinball Anyone?

Some days you're the flipper.

Some days you're the ball.


Definitely the ball.


Wednesday, January 16, 2008

'Twas The Night Before Christmas (Legal Version)

Aye, I know the calender would have us believe that Christmas is long since past. But having just come upon this gem this very moment and having just concluded a dissertation on some things legal, I feel it's really far too good to pass up.

So Belated Christmas Greetings to Your and Yours ... or please accept these as Tidings in Advance. Whichever should better suit you.

Whereas, on or about the night prior to Christmas, there did occur at a certain improved piece of real property (hereinafter "the House") a general lack of stirring by all creatures therein, including, but not limited to a mouse.

A variety of foot apparel, e.g. stocking, socks, etc., had been affixed by and around the chimney in said House in the hope and/or belief that St. Nick a/k/a/ St. Nicholas a/k/a/ Santa Claus (hereinafter "Claus") would arrive at sometime thereafter.

The minor residents, i.e. the children, of the aforementioned House, were located in their individual beds and were engaged in nocturnal hallucinations, i.e. dreams, wherein vision of confectionery treats, including, but not limited to, candies, nuts and/or sugar plums, did dance, cavort and otherwise appear in said dreams.

Whereupon the party of the first part (sometimes hereinafter referred to as "I"), being the joint-owner in fee simple of the House with the parts of the second part (hereinafter "Mamma"), and said Mamma had retired for a sustained period of sleep. (At such time, the parties were clad in various forms of headgear, e.g. kerchief and cap.)

Suddenly, and without prior notice or warning, there did occur upon the unimproved real property adjacent and appurtent to said House, i.e. the lawn, a certain disruption of unknown nature, cause and/or circumstance. The party of the first part did immediately rush to a window in the House to investigate the cause of such disturbance.

At that time, the party of the first part did observe, with some degree of wonder and/or disbelief, a miniature sleigh (hereinafter the "Vehicle") being pulled and/or drawn very rapidly through the air by approximately eight (8) reindeer. The driver of the Vehicle appeared to be and in fact was, the previously referenced Claus.

Said Claus was providing specific direction, instruction and guidance to the approximately eight (8) reindeer and specifically identified the animal co-conspirators by name: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen, Comet, Cupid, Donder and Blitzen (hereinafter the "Deer"). (Upon information and belief, it is further asserted that an additional co-conspirator named Rudolph may have been involved.)

The party of the first part witnessed Claus, the Vehicle and the Deer intentionally and willfully [Ed. 'and no doubt with malice aforethought'] trespass upon the roofs of several residences located adjacent to and in the vicinity of the House, and noted that the Vehicle was heavily laden with packages, toys and other items of unknown origin or nature. Suddenly, without prior invitation or permission, either express or implied, the Vehicle arrived at the House, and Claus entered said House via the chimney.

Said Claus was clad in a red fur suit, which was partially covered with residue from the chimney, and he carried a large sack containing a portion of the aforementioned packages, toys, and other unknown items. He was smoking what appeared to be tobacco in a small pipe in blatant violation of local ordinances and health regulations.

Claus did not speak, but immediately began to fill the stocking of the minor children, which hung adjacent to the chimney, with toys and other small gifts. (Said items did not, however, constitute "gifts" to said minor pursuant to the applicable provisions of the U.S. Tax Code [Ed: 'or Income Tax Act of Canada'].) Upon completion of such task, Claus touched the side of his nose and flew, rose and/or ascended up the chimney of the House to the roof where the Vehicle and Deer waited and/or served as "lookouts." Claus immediately departed for an unknown destination.

However, prior to the departure of the Vehicle, Deer and Claus from said House, the party of the first part did hear Claus state and/or exclaim: "Merry Christmas to all and to all a good night!" Or words to that effect.
~ Author Unknown

Borrowed, alas, without permission, either express or implied, from Tax Prof Blog

When In Doubt ...

Perhaps it's appropriate that I pick this evening to write this post. I feel like I'm in a bit of a funk, you see. I guess you might call it a blogging funk.

I want to post. In the abstract, like.
I even have a topic I really want to write about. Again, in the abstract.

But when the opportunity presents itself to start typing ... I'm just not in the mood. And since it's a serious topic, one I really care about, I want to write it when I am really motivated to. Or so I tell myself, anyway.

But hey, I might just have found the perfect solution.

From The Attorney Marketing Center:
I heard about an article today in the Wall Street Journal citing a growing number of attorneys who are disillusioned with the practice of law. That's not news, really, but I was told the article also noted a number of new lawyers who are suing their law schools for misrepresentation about their prospects in the legal job market. Isn't that special?
Can you imagine that? For real?
Only in America, you say??

Well, maybe ... but America-bashing ammo aside, Mr. Ward does make some valid points:

Some people truly love practicing law. God bless you if that's you. But I think many lawyers have convinced themselves that they love practicing when in reality, they would rather be doing something else. The worst place to be, however, is knowing you hate what you do but not seeing a way out.
One of my favourite lines is that 'If you have to work for a living, you might as well do something you enjoy'. I really believe that. And I really believe that I am very lucky. Because I really do enjoy the law.

Now I'm not quite sure that I'm one of those "people [who] truly love practicing law". Seeing as it's been a very long time since I have practiced. But I do love the law, itself. The discipline, the research, crafting and writing an argument. And, lest we forget, strategy sessions. Yeah.

Funny thing is, just the other day, I received an email from a former acquaintance/colleague who no longer practices law. In one of those strange quirks of blogging fate I discovered that Joyce, who has an autistic daughter, is in the process of authoring a special needs picture cookbook, No-Cook Recipes for Special Chefs. Anyway, in the course of our correspondence in which I passed on some of my recent employment woes and asked for more information about the cookbook, Joyce suggested that I consider buying and reselling the cookbook. I chuckled to myself at the notion, simply because it made me realize that the only way I will ever willingly leave the field of law is either after being dragged out, kicking and screaming or carried out on a stretcher.

So, funk or no, I guess I do have that going for me. At least I know I am in the right profession. Even if it's not to be practicing it at the moment.

And, beyond that, I do have the blawg and I always did say that what would make me the happiest would be to able to combine my two passions, the law and children with special needs, together in one paying job. I'm still hopeful that day might eventually come. So I don't think I will consider suing my alma mater just yet.

Instead, for those perhaps not so happy in their chosen employment, I think I will just end this post with some more words of wisdom from Mr. Ward.
There is always a way out. It might be painful–economically and emotionally–but the pain will pass. Five years from now at the outset, you could be happily engulfed in a new career, a new life. The sooner you take steps towards changing, the sooner your new life will appear.

I didn't know where I was headed when I began this post, and I certainly don't want to start the year with a downer. But I know this is a time when goals are set, resolution's are resolved, and it's not long before we are all caught up in the day to day of our careers, and before you know it, another year has come and gone. So I wanted to mention it once more and now I'm done with this topic (for now), so let's get back to the business of bringing in clients and increasing incomes. After all, it's better to be miserable with money than miserable and broke.
To each their own, I suppose. And here's wishing you the best of luck in finding yours.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

The Only Difference Between Men And Boys Is The Size of Their Decks

Or so they say, anyway.

H/T to Tera

Monday, January 14, 2008

Those Crazy Canucks

So. It's been a little quiet around here recently, hasn't it?
It's not that I don't have things to say though; never fear, I do.

What I don't have is enough time. For I have been blogging, you see. At the blawg. And at The Flight Deck. Right at the moment, it feels like I have become the point man woman in regard to every human rights complaint brought by Muslims in Canada. Okay, maybe a bit of an exaggeration. But over at Neptunus Lex, Babs does seem determined to have me respond to a lot of different cases.

Anyway, I figure that until I get a chance to talk about what *I* want to talk about, I might as well share with you what I have been blogging about. This was written in response to Babs asking my response to this recent “human rights” case in Canada:

Muslims and Human Rights Complaints ... The Resident Canuck Weighs In

Babs, there is a statement Ezra makes in his opening statement that I essentially agree with:

I believe that this commission has no proper authority over me. The commission was meant as a low-level, quasi-judicial body to arbitrate squabbles about housing, employment and other matters, where a complainant felt that their race or sex was the reason they were discriminated against. The commission was meant to deal with deeds, not words or ideas. Now the commission, which is funded by a secular government, from the pockets of taxpayers of all backgrounds, is taking it upon itself to be an enforcer of the views of radical Islam. So much for the separation of mosque and state.

I think there is a good argument that human rights legislation has more recently been amended to cover issues that it was never intended to. And probably shouldn't be. "The commission was meant to deal with deeds, not words or ideas." He is probably right there.

But first of all, that does not, in and of itself, make the premise of human rights tribunals wrong. And that's where Ezra and I disagree. He complains because the complainants don't have to pay lawyers but the defendants do. He's right. And the fact that the complainant doesn't have to pay for their lawyer is one of the main reasons I am in favour of human rights tribunals. Let's face it, the large majority of individuals can't afford the services of a lawyer. I know I sure can't. That's why things like small claims courts and human rights tribunals were created.


*By the way, if you want even more fun, make sure you read the comments that follow the post too.

This is Creepy

Think of a letter between
A and W.
Repeat it
out loud as
you scroll down.
Keep going ........
Don't stop ....
Think of an
that begins
with that letter.
Repeat it
out loud
as you
scroll down.
Think of
either a man's/woman's
with the
last letter
in the
animals name
count out
the letters
in that name
on the fingers
of the hand
you are not
using to
scroll down.
Take the
hand you
counted with
and hold it out
in front of you
at face level

Look at your
very closely
Do the lines
take the
form of the
first letter
in the
persons name?
Of course they dont.......
Now smack
yourself in the head, get a life,
quit playing
stupid games!

Thursday, January 10, 2008

When The Moon Comes Up, I Lay Awake And Wonder

As a parent, any parent, I think you spend a certain amount of your life second-guessing yourself. Am I doing the right thing? How/when will I know? And, if I am wrong, will I be able to *fix* it?

But when your child has special needs, particularly special and complex needs, that whole process becomes magnified 1000 times. So many decisions, so many choices. With each choice taking on, and often legitimately having, such a huge life of its own, being so important for your child and your family. Now and later.

So what do you do? Well, today, for many of us, it's research. Research, talk to other parents, talk with your spouse, agonize, lay awake at night, pray .... and then do. Fortunately, for some decisions, for some parents, the process is short-circuited, you take one look at your child and you just know what you have to do. No matter what anyone else tells you.

Which is often a very good thing. Particularly if it happens to be your doctor and well-meaning family members and friends telling you that your precious newborn will never 'amount to much' and to save your family, this little baby needs to be institutionalized. I know of many parents who were in that situation and simply said "No. I will take this child home and love them and raise them. And whatever will be will be."' And those are the parents who have reported back years later how glad they were that they didn't listen to that supposed 'wisdom'.

Now don't get me wrong. First of all, not all doctors use such harsh language. There are those who will covey the same message but in a much more compassionate and gentle way. Secondly, I wouldn't want anyone to take this post as a criticism of a parent who did place their child in a facility. We all do what we have to do. We make the best decisions we can at the time. And then hope and pray for the best. We pray that we did the right thing. And sometimes, I think placement is the *right* thing, both for the child and the family.

We are so lucky to have so many more options for our children now then there was in even my parents' generation. I have two older sisters that are severely mentally challenged. My mom kept them home for as long as she could. But finally with a husband in a wheelchair and another baby on the way, she realized she could only do what she could do. And I believe she did all that she could. She didn't have access to the services we do today. Think about that, many of us would consider today's services and supposed 'inclusion' to be woefully inadequate. Imagine having no options. We all pay our money and take our chances. Do our best, make a decision and pray that we were right.

I am lucky in that I never had to hear anyone put that kind of choice to me. My daughter was a perfectly typical infant until she was 13 months old. But when her problems started, she became fairly severely challenged. The amazing thing is, though, that she has certainly come a long way. No, she's never going to be 'nearmal' or "typical", whatever they may be, but she has made amazing progress and, at 14, she is definitely her own unique person.

And now it breaks my heart a bit when my mom tells me that she never thought the Blue Jay would have gotten to this point. And how bad she feels that she couldn't do for my sisters what my husband and I have done for our child. So I remind mom that she really had no choice, given her life circumstances at the time. That any intervention, let alone early intervention, was unheard of at the time. That even if she could have kept the girls at home, they wouldn't have been offered the specialized help and services that the Blue Jay has had. Our life has been far from easy but at least we were able to struggle and fight to get our child help. No amount of struggle could have gotten non-existent services for my sisters.

We're also very lucky that institutions are no longer quite the horror houses that they were. That there are bright, cheerful, caring facilities and schools for children and adults for whom there is no other option. That it's no longer as it is portrayed in this video.

I borrowed this video from Ashley's Mom at Pipecleaner Dreams. And she in turn borrowed it from Casdock at Mother of Shrek. In Least We Forget, Casdock talks about the closure of the old "asylum for idiots" in her town.

The first hospital of this kind in the UK was founded in 1247. Some people were sent there in their youth for 'crimes' such as being epileptic, an unmarried mother stealing to feed their families or becoming prostitutes to maintain their children after being deserted by their husbands. It became infamous for its harsh treatment of the insane. Visitors could come and observe the lunatics- entry to the freak shows were free on Tuesdays. Visitors could bring sticks and poke the inmates to enrage them.
Please go read it all. And be grateful for what we have today, even though in our hearts we know it's not nearly enough.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Thought For The Day

Give A Person A Fish And You Feed Them For A Day,
Teach A Person To Use The Internet And They Won't Bother You For Weeks.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Crocodile Tears?

I dunno. Maybe its just me.

But I have a hard time believing that Hilary Clinton was crying over the fate of the country when questioned about Barak Obama's perceived lead in the US Presidential race. Now if you said she was crying in her beer ... or scotch or whatever ... well, sure, I could believe that. But seriously, crying because it's so hard and the only thing that keeps her going is her passionate belief that it's the right thing to do, because she has to save her country? Yeah, right.

I don't have any direct skin in the game, don't really much care who wins each party's nomination. But it is entertaining to watch. In kind of the same way as a massive car wreck in action would be. Provided you knew that no one was getting that hurt, that is.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Pssst ...

Stay tuned.
The next visitor will be the blog's 1,000 visitor.
Not too bad for a blog that's only 2 months old, I figure.

Two months ... 132 posts. I must like to blog, I guess.

Update: Congratulations to the phantom I believe to be neoauteur. Thanks for shopping at Free Falling and please make sure you come back to check out more of our New Years specials. New stock arriving daily. Oh yeah, don't forget to pick up your gift certificate at the Customer Service counter.

Jetstream ... Be Still My Beating Heart

I've never been one much for reality TV. I've watched the occasional episode of the occasional show here and there but that's about it. They really do nothing for me. I figure that if I want 'reality', I will look out the window. Or for that matter, I could just cast an eye around the living room.

But I see there's a new show coming out. Not a reality show per se but ...

Premiering Tuesday on the Discovery Channel, the eight-part documentary follows a handful of ambitious pilot trainees vying for a spot in Canada's most exclusive fight club.

"There's no shortage of people who dream of being air force fighter pilots, but there aren't that many who can actually cut the mustard," says Jetstream director Kelly McClughan. "There aren't that many who can cope with the physical demands, the mental demands, the emotional demands. It is incredible.

"Filmed in 2006 at CFB Cold Lake, Jetstream chronicles the experiences of seven students - one woman, six men - who reckon with rigorous and exhausting training in the 410 Tactical Fighter Squadron. Their day-to-day activities include intense flying missions in the military's $35 million CF-18 Hornet, simulator flights and ground school. The workload is intense, the geometry is mind-numbing, and the day is never done.

"There's no going home and kicking back and watching football," says McClughan.

Did I mention it's Canadian? The eight-part documentary follows a handful of ambitious pilot trainees vying for a spot in Canada's most exclusive fight club.

Tuesday. The Discovery Channel. I think I might just check it out. Care to join me?

Update: Looking for more Jetstream? Check out Check Six and Fight's On

Oh Yeah!

Now that's what I call real inclusion. Let's hear it for Jason!

H/T to Raylene

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Move Over Tupperware, It's Taser Time

Okay. Seriously. This is just too weird.

Do you remember those Tupperware parties your mom used to attend when you were a kid? And then she would come home all excited about her new plastic products? Or maybe she even hosted a few?

Well, Move Over Tupperware. Bring Out The Tasers.

Apparently, concerns about the newest form of Russian Roulette doesn't bother this lady any. Dana Shafman, an 'independent entrepreneur', purchases tasers from Taser International at a discounted dealer rate. She's then invites other women into her home and uses their fear of home invasions to sell them Tasers.

The worst nightmare for me is, while I'm sleeping, someone coming in my home," Shafman says, drawing a few solemn nods from the gathered women. Shafman, 34, of Phoenix, says she knows how they feel. She says she used to stash knives under her pillow for protection.

Welcome, she says, to the Taser party.

On the coffee table, Shafman spreads out Taser's C2 "personal protector" weapons that the company is marketing to the public. It doesn't take long before the women are lined up in the hallway, whooping as they take turns blasting at a metallic target.

"C'mon!" she says. "Give it a shot."

That's right, folks. She is selling, totally legally I might add, the same weapons to, presumably, everyone from housewives to computer analysts, as those whose use in the hands of trained police officers has resulted in eighteen deaths in Canada alone, a lot of public outrage and various public enquiries. No training, no warnings, no permits required. But rest easy, the company does require a criminal background check before the code is provided to turn the weapon on. Because they're, like, a responsible corporate citizen, dontchya know.

Company officials say they're now selling Tasers in 43 countries and more than 12,500 police agencies in North America are either using or testing their weapons. With its weapons dominant in law enforcement, Taser is turning its attention back to the civilian market.

It launched the C2 in August. Though it packs the same electric punch, the C2 is smaller than the bulky personal stun guns Taser developed years ago, and its sleek exterior makes it look more like an electric razor than a weapon. They're legal in every U.S. state but New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, Michigan, Wisconsin, Hawaii, and Washington D.C.

Shafman says many of her women customers love that the C2 is small enough to fit in their purses, and that it comes in a variety of colours. When it comes to choosing weapons, she says, a lot of women want them in pink.

"It's a girl power kind of thing," Shafman says. "You're kind of making a statement: I know I'm a woman. I know I'm the most sought after victim in regards to sexual assault, sexual abuse. So please stay away from me. If in the event you do come after me, I'm going to use my pink Taser to put you on the ground."

Oh yeah, dude. Watch out for me. My taser is pink. And if I accidentally hit someone else with it and they happen to die, well, hey, you gotta admit ... it is a totally cool fashion accessory.

Gold For Canada, Rock On

Make that four straight gold medals for Canada at the world junior hockey championship. Sounds like the gold medal one was a good game, too.

And to get there, on Friday afternoon Team Canada bested the US 4 -1 in their semi-final game in Pardubice, Czech Republic. Yeah, I know, I just had to add that. And as a rather cool footnote, one of Canada's players, Brad Marchand, is a 19-year-old forward from Halifax. Now that's cool.

So what is it about hockey? That even if you're not particularly a fan of the sport, let Canada do well on the world stage and its ... Woo hoo!

Okay, it could be have something to do with the fact that hockey is the quintessential Canadian sport. So we figure we just should always win. As of right. But much like the old saying that "Italy invented the pizza. America perfected it.", everyone always seems to be trying to beat us at our gig. They got a lot of nerve, I tell you.

Next year the tournament heads to North America for a four-year run. The 2009 world junior hockey championship will be held in Ottawa. Canada will host it again in 2010 and 2012 and the U.S. gets it in 2011.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Select A Candidate ... Any Candidate

Partly as a joke and partly out of curiousity, I took this amusing little quiz which was sent to me by unkawill of Unkawill's Ramblings.

Thinking about next year's election ... already made up your mind? still deciding? Try this fascinating website!

This is a simple, non committal, eleven question quiz for you to take regarding the presidential candidates - all of them

The subject of the quiz is the Presidential Candidates - very interesting analytical tool

This quiz Takes about 1-2 minutes. Having trouble deciding who to vote for in 2008? This quiz will compare your answers with "ALL" candidates - Republican, Democrat, Other and what they support.

From your answers the candidates will be scored and placed in an order that best reflects your thoughts on the issues.

I found this to be of interest .... It did not select the candidate I had expected! Of even more interest was which candidates were way down the list - and why.Click on the website below: I'm sure you'll want to pass this along to friends ...

I suggest you do it without disclosing who your candidate was before and after the survey! This is your own personal survey. You might be very surprised - AND NO!!! This is not a joke - it is for real and very enlightening

The amusing part?

My top two choices (they were actually tied) were a Republican (Guillani) and a Democrat (Chris Todd). My third choice was a Democrat (I am embarrassed to admit it was John Edwards ... less for his stand on the issues than the fact that he acts like such an ... asschat) but separated by only one point from my next choice which was a Republican (Mitt Romney).

Which is amusing for a couple of reasons. First of all, my first choice was equally split between a Pub and a Dem ... and to think that they consider me such a [gasp] socialist! And secondly, if my top four choices were equally split between Pubs and Dems and my top choice was a tie between the two ... you have to ask yourself, how different can their expressed positions on the issues actually be?

Anyway, go try it for yourself.

That's right, unkawill. Its your second hat tip!

This Chick Digs Plane Pr0n

H/T to the Good Capt. Lex

Friday, January 4, 2008

Quakes - How Prepared Are You?

Are you prepared?
Do you have any idea what to do?
I only thought I did.

I guess it's fairly obvious that I've never lived in Califlornia or any other earthquake-prone place. Seeing as how I only got 3 out of 10 questions correct.

But I do have lots of friends how live in Cal-i-for-nia. Hmmm, I wonder how they would do?

Take The Quiz and let me know.

H/T to Bob

Thursday, January 3, 2008

'Twas The Diet After Christmas

T’was the day after Christmas, and all through the house
Not a damn thing would fit me, not even a blouse.
The cookies I’d nibbled, the eggnog I’d taste
At the holiday parties had gone to my waist.

When I got on the scales there arose such a number!
When I walked to the store (less a walk than a lumber),
I’d remember the marvellous meals I’d prepared;
The gravies, and sauces, and beef nicely rared,

The wine and the rum-balls, the bread and the cheese,
And the way that I’d never said, “No thank you, please.”
As I dressed myself up, in my husband’s old shirt,
And prepared once again to do battle with dirt -

I said to myself, (as only I can),
“You can’t spend the winter disguised as a man!”
So, away with the last of the sour cream dip,
Get rid of the fruit cake, each cracker, and chip,

Every last bit of food that I like must be banished
’til all the unwanted ounces have vanished!
I won’t have a cookie, not even a lick…
I’ll just have to chew on a celery stick.

I won’t have hot biscuits, or corn bread, or pie;
I’ll munch on a carrot, and quietly cry.
I’m hungry, I’m lonesome, and life is a bore -
But isn’t that what January is for?

Unable to giggle, no longer a riot…
Happy New Year and to all a good diet!

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Monkey See, Monkey Do

So it looks like Nova Scotia has become the California of the North. Don't believe me? Check this out.

New Cellular Phone Laws That Go Into Effect July 1, 2008 [Califronia]

An Act to Amend Chapter 293of the Revised Statutes, 1989,the Motor Vehicle Act [Nova Scotia]

I don't know. Looks like a dangerous precedent to me.
But then again, I might just be biased. I absoloutely despise earpieces.

H/T to the Curbside Investigator

Only in Canada, eh?

Ottawa announced TODAY the formation of a new 500-man elite fighting unit called the Newfounfdland Fighting Fishermen(NEWFF) .

These Newfies will be dropped off into Iraq and Afghanistan and have been given only the following facts about terrorists :
1. The season opened today.
2. There is no limit.
3. They taste just like chicken.
4. They don 't like beer, pickups, newfie music or Jesus.
5. They are directly responsible for the loss of the cod fish.

Ottawa expects the problems in Iraq and Afghanistan to be over by Friday.

H/T to Tera

Anyone care for a drink?

Will you join me?

The Recipe For A MMC

3 parts Energy
2 parts Daring
1 part Delight

Splash of Cleverness

Finish off with an olive

I'm not so sure about the olive, but the rest of it sounds okay. Then again, I could probably do with at least a double on the Energy part at the moment.

H/T to
Fuzzybear Lioness

Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Happy New Year to U Too

Shall we pick up the pace a little?

H/T to Peter at Neptunus Lex

Falling In Love

It's true, ya know.

Oh yeah, now I remember why I don't have any cats.

H/T to Dar