Wednesday, January 31, 2007

My new obsession

I call him Reddy Freddy.

Wise investors might want to buy stock in the companies which make blackstripe sunflower seeds.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007


We've attracted a male Northern Cardinal to our feeding station! Forgive the blurriness of the shot, as it was taken through two panes of glass.

Monday, January 29, 2007

There's a metaphor in there, somewhere

Hot off the wires:

Eagle Lugging a Deer Head Causes Outage

JUNEAU, Alaska (AP) -- About 10,000 Juneau residents briefly lost power after a bald eagle lugging a deer head crashed into transmission lines.

''You have to live in Alaska to have this kind of outage scenario,'' said Gayle Wood, an Alaska Electric Light & Power spokeswoman. ''This is the story of the overly ambitious eagle who evidently found a deer head in the landfill.''

The bird, weighed down by the deer head, apparently failed to clear the transmission lines, she said. A repair crew found the eagle dead, the deer head nearby.

The power was out for less than 45 minutes Sunday.

This annoyed me at first, but I did a few sun salutations and I'm feeling better now

Tara Guber created a yoga curriculum for elementary schools. Some schools love it, and report fewer discipline and behaviour problems. I can attest to this. When we begin our (rather loosely structured) homeschooling days with a few yoga poses, we achieve more.

Critics (read: bible thumpers) have their knickers in a knot, insisting that the Hindu origins of yoga will lead children astray and encourage them to explore mysticism and Eastern religions.

Because Jesus would rather that kids be doped up medicated with Ritalin than spending a few minutes in the lotus position, right?


Take time to smell the flowers

Sunday, January 28, 2007


The Rideau Canal Skateway in Ottawa is open!

Come hell or high water, I *will* skate on the canal this year!

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Happy Robbie Burns Day!

I can't understand a word of his verse, and neither haggis nor scotch will be consumed here tonight. But Happy Robbie Burns Day, anyway.

Enjoy this midi of My Love's A Red, Red Rose.

Friday, January 19, 2007

This is why winter cottages need chamber pots, kiddies

So, this guy from Toronto goes to his friend's cottage in Muskoka and engages in the grand old cottage country tradition of getting plastered.

In the wee hours of the morning, he went out to .. umm .. write his name in the snow.

Then, he tried to get back into the cottage, but ended up knocking on the wrong door. No-one was home at the neighbouring cottage, so the fella tried to enter through the chimney. Unsurprisingly, the fella got stuck.

It's a minor miracle that the man didn't freeze to death in the five hours it took before anyone heard his muffled cries for help.

No charges will be laid, as there was no criminal intent.

I think the guy probably learned his lesson, anyway.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

I learned a new phrase today:

Cosmetic Endocrinology. (LA Times story, registration may be required.)

In 2003, the FDA approved the use of Human Growth Hormone to treat children with idiopathic short stature. That's shortness that is not caused by a known disease process. Girls whose projected height is less than 4'11", and boys expected to be 5'3" or less, are eligible for this brave new treatment. Over the course of several years, daily injections of growth hormones are administered. If successful - and it isn't always successful - children may gain a couple of extra inches.

Bear with me as all 4 feet and 11 inches of me shakes with rage.

Ellen Frankel points out:

But being short isn’t the problem. The real difficulties lie in the social bias against short people. Are we willing to treat the victim of a social prejudice with medical technology that supports and reinforces that prejudice? Are we willing to take a healthy child and turn him or her into a patient in need of treatment? We live in a culture that is obsessed with being tall and thin and now the pharmaceutical companies have jumped on the bias against short people. They calculated that they have a built in population to treat that could boost profits significantly, because there will always be those who fall into the lower height percentiles on a bell shaped curve.

How interesting. The "stunting" of a severely mentally handicapped child's growth evoked a media firestorm, but the expensive, medically unnecessary attempts to make otherwise healthy children a couple of inches taller is condoned.

Cosmetic endocrinology: a fancy term for a grotesque practice.

Comfort the afflicted, afflict the comfortable

Poor Karl Kemp. He owns an antique shop on the Upper East Side of Manhattan, but he fears that he is losing potential customers. The reason? A homeless man has set up camp on the sidewalk grate in front of his store.

Mr. Kemp has called the police, but those pesky police claim that this vagrant actually has the right to be where he wants to be.

So, Mr. Kemp is suing the unnamed homeless man, along with three other persons, for one million dollars.

Imagine the audacity of these people! How dare they be poor? How dare they be cold? How dare they be mentally ill? How dare they fall through the cracks? How dare they remind Mr. Kemp's potential customers that there could be better ways to spend $26,000 than to purchase a 19th-century mahogany Empire bench from Vienna with lion-head details and cream-colored upholstery?

Shame on you, Mr. Kemp.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Winter beauty

Jack Frost visited, and left only beauty in his wake.

The field across the road, just after this morning's sunrise.

A slight glaze on the spruce tree.

View of same spruce tree, through an ice-covered window.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Happy Birthday, Dr. King

Nearly forty years ago, and one year to the day before his death, Dr. Martin Luther King delivered a speech to a meeting of Clergy and Laity Concerned at Riverside Church in New York City.

These powerful words have resonance and relevance today.

Some excerpts:

"Somehow this madness must cease. We must stop now. I speak as a child of God and brother to the suffering poor of Vietnam. I speak for those whose land is being laid waste, whose homes are being destroyed, whose culture is being subverted. I speak for the poor of America who are paying the double price of smashed hopes at home and death and corruption in Vietnam. I speak as a citizen of the world, for the world as it stands aghast at the path we have taken. I speak as an American to the leaders of my own nation. The great initiative in this war is ours. The initiative to stop it must be ours."

"If we continue, there will be no doubt in my mind and in the mind of the world that we have no honorable intentions in Vietnam. It will become clear that our minimal expectation is to occupy it as an American colony and men will not refrain from thinking that our maximum hope is to goad China into a war so that we may bomb her nuclear installations. If we do not stop our war against the people of Vietnam immediately the world will be left with no other alternative than to see this as some horribly clumsy and deadly game we have decided to play."

"The world now demands a maturity of America that we may not be able to achieve. It demands that we admit that we have been wrong from the beginning of our adventure in Vietnam, that we have been detrimental to the life of the Vietnamese people. The situation is one in which we must be ready to turn sharply from our present ways."

And finally, and perhaps most importantly:

"We can no longer afford to worship the god of hate or bow before the altar of retaliation."

Amen, and thank you, Dr. King.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Everyone is offering their two cents, so here are mine.

I have been following, with great fascination, the debate surrounding "The Ashley Treatment."

Ashley is a beautiful little girl. She is the same age as my son. That is where the similarities end. As explained on her parents' blog, Ashley has static encephalopathy. For reasons unknown, her brain has not developed past the mental age of 3 months. She cannot talk, walk, move purposefully, feed herself, or even hold her head up. She is completely dependent upon her loving parents for every aspect of her care.

Ashley's body, however, has developed. In fact, she started displaying signs of precocious puberty at the age of six. Ashley's mother wondered if puberty could and/or should be accelerated in order to minimize her final height and weight. After careful consideration and extensive vetting with the Bioethics Committee of Seattle Children's Hospital, a course of high-dose estrogen therapy was pursued. Ashley's uterus, appendix, and breast buds were also removed. The reason for this surgery, which makes perfect sense to me, is explained in detail on the parents' blog. Ashley's final height is 4'5", as opposed to the 5'6" that she probably would have attained.

After "The Ashley Treatment" was described in medical journals, a media storm erupted. Inevitably, there has been a backlash from many communities, including disability activists and feminists.

What strikes me about the hue and cry emanating from the critics, is that the focus is on Ashley's "stunted growth." Abuse is hurled at Ashley's parents, accusing them of putting their own "convenience" ahead of Ashley's potential and of her "human dignity."

Well, I'm only 6 inches taller than Ashley, and I'm here to tell you that there is nothing wrong with being a person of small stature. There is nothing undignified about being petite. I would go so far as to argue that Ashley's dignity will be preserved, because this "growth attenuation treatment" will enable Ashley to remain in her home, with a family who clearly loves and cherishes her.

Ashley's parents are clearly intelligent, loving people, who embarked upon this course of action with their child's best interests in mind. They are to be commended, not cursed. And the rest of us should thank our maker that we have not walked in their shoes.

Darn! I missed it!

It is Sir John A. MacDonald Day on the other side of the St. Lawrence River today, in celebration of the birthday of Canada's first Prime Minister. In Kingston, there was to have been a small gathering at the Sir John A. statue in City Park, at which historically-minded bonvivants planned to sing Oh Canada and God Save the Queen, and covertly sip whiskey and sherry.

Who says that history has to be boring?

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Dream interpretation, anyone?

We usually keep the radio in our bedroom on all night, tuned to CBC Overnight. Last night, much of the world's attention was turned to Bush's impending address to the nation about Iraq, and the anticipation of a troop surge.

These news stories wove themselves into my REM patterns, and I dreamt that I was on a bus with the POTUS. He looked gray, week, and feeble. He was attempting to speak to us, but was shouted down. He was attempting to put his signature on some document, but he was using a pencil. His writing was gray, week, and feeble. I felt strong and powerful as I told him what I thought of his Presidential legacy.

I wonder what it could mean?


Friday, January 05, 2007

Un. Frikking. Believable.

This is inexcusable.

The U.S. army said Friday it would apologize to the families of about 275 officers killed or wounded in action who were mistakenly sent letters urging them to return to active duty.

The letters were sent a few days after Christmas to more than 5,100 army officers who had recently left the service. Included were letters to about 75 officers killed in action and about 200 wounded in action.

There are no words ...

Three lives taken, just nine years in jail (maybe)

Last week, I blogged about the criminal act perpetrated upon the St. Denise family of Pickering, Ontario. As you will recall, this family was on their way to Florida when a drunk in a pickup, driving the wrong way on I-99, killed Roger St. Denise, Paul St. Denise, and Angela St. Denise.

Jeremy Grimes, aged 23, was the driver of that pickup truck. His BAC was 0.21, which is more than twice the legal limit. In June 2005, he was charged with DUI and was placed in a probationary program for first time offenders.**

He has been charged with three counts of vehicular homicide while driving under the influence, which is a second degree felony. If convicted, he faces a mandatory miniumum sentence of three years for each count.

Nine years for killing three people? That's just not enough.

Last October, Martin Heidgen was convicted of depraved indifference second degree murder after a similar incident - driving the wrong way on the Long Island Expressway while drunk. He smashed into a limosine, which carried a family on the way home from a 4th of July wedding. The driver of the limosine, Stanley Rabinowitz, and the 7 year old flower girl, Katie Flynn, were killed. As I understand it, there is controversy and contention about several aspects of this convinction, including the position that the condition of "depraved indifference" does not apply when the defendent committed one's crime(s) in a state of inebriation. I beg to differ. When that first sip of that first drink is taken, while the car keys are still in one's pocket, one is, by definition, demonstrating depraved indifference.

In my view, anyone who consumes alcohol, in any amount, with the intent to drive afterwards, shows depraved indifference towards their fellow man. There is absolutely no excuse for this. Rot in hell, Jeremy.

**cough~bullshit~cough~translation:first time they got caught~cough**