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Saturday, July 29, 2006

Bush Pilot...

If you haven't seen this yet, it's time to sit back and have a chuckle... thanks to Helen Wheels for leading me to it.

Graffiti for the week...


I categorize this as 'thoughtful graffiti', which is a form I really like

(correct spelling always optional).

Friday, July 28, 2006


This is my LIVE WRITE newspaper column for next week - comments always welcome.

August 1 to 7 is World Breastfeeding Week (it will be celebrated in Canada in October also). Before you decide that this column is not for you - because you are not a mother or don’t expect to be, or because you are a man, read on. I think you’ll find something interesting, especially if you like world records.

When my wife was pregnant with our first child, I strived to be an involved father from the beginning. I obviously wasn’t going to experience pregnancy or childbirth, but I read the books, bought the baby stuff and attended birthing classes. In fact, I was so empathetic I was sick some mornings, put on weight and developed bad gums. It’s true.

When it came to breastfeeding our son, I was again able to be a supportive, if not active participant. At that time there was an episode of the Jay Leno Show where a guest demonstrated an over-the-shoulder device that could be filled with breast milk and used by a man to nurse an infant. It was good talk show material, but I wasn’t tempted to try it.

Why is there a growing international breastfeeding movement? Women have fed babies this way since humans evolved from mammals who also fed their babies this way. Just over 100 years ago, in 1903, attendees at the International Congress of Obstetrician’s in Paris, France, expressed concern that pediatricians and clinics were encouraging artificial feeding at the expense of breastfeeding. This trend continued for decades, with a decline in breastfeeding worldwide, fueled by the misconception that artificial foods were as healthy (or better) for babies. Some commercial interests continue to fuel this misconception.

If a baby could tell you why she prefers breast milk (exclusively for the first six months of her life, according the World Health Organization) - she might say something like this, “I want to have straight teeth and grow up faster, fitter and smarter. I don’t want to get the flu, colds, asthma and earaches. It’s good for my tummy, for nature and for getting my mom back into shape. And best of all, I can eat whenever I’m hungry and I get to cuddle really close to mom at the same time.” This is a smart baby, as all of these reasons are based on sound research.

A smart mom knows that she is reducing her own risk of ovarian and breast cancer, is going to save money and is feeding her baby over a thousand beneficial ingredients (formula provides about 60).

There is assistance to help mothers successfully breastfeed, to deal with special or difficult situations and to encourage fathers to be supportive. Prenatal breastfeeding classes, midwives, Pubic Health and maternity nurses and the La Leche League are widely available resources.

The breastfeeding movement isn’t only about guiding parents to this most natural baby food. It’s also about breaking down cultural taboos that link breastfeeding with our often-confused perception of the female body, making it uncomfortable for mothers to feed their babies in public.

Now to the record I mentioned at the beginning... Simultaneous breastfeeding events started out as a protest that mothers resorted to when they were admonished not to breastfeed in public. The act’s popularity rose to become a form of celebration during occasions like World Breastfeeding Week.

In May this year, in Manila, Philippines, 3,738 mothers simultaneously breast-fed their babies for at least one minute, breaking the Guinness World Record. Assuming most women only nursed one baby, that’s still almost 7,500 happy people in one location.

Wednesday, July 26, 2006

Playing with words in the Middle East

Here's the game. I list words and you consider which ones the media and Canadian and US leaders use... or don't use. No prizes this time.

By the way, naming these things differently is not anti-Semitic. Expecting Israel to operate within International Law is not anti-Semitic. Thinking that the Palestinian people have lived under a brutal occupation for decades is not anti-Semitic. Oh... and by the way, the Palestinian people are also from the Semites.

I believe in the two state solution, forged by international pressure and not accepting violence against civilians from any side. It's more realistic and viable than this endless cycle of escalating violence - that can only please arms dealers, neo-con nutjobs, Islamic extremists, US empire builders and Israeli hawks.

Words related to Palestinians
- terrorist, insurgent OR freedom fighter, independence force, soldiers
- kidnap Israeli soldiers OR 'round up the enemy' (see below)
- murder, kill Israeli civilians OR collateral damage
- Islamic extremists OR leaders

Words related to Israel
- Israeli Defence Force OR occupying army
- round up Palestinian citizens OR kidnapping civilians
- collateral damage OR killing civilians
- settlements OR occupied Palestinian land

Saturday, July 22, 2006

It would be funny, but...too close to home

Thanks to PIca for this.

Cycle of violence will not end this way

Okay, there are many parties to the conflict raging in Lebanon, Israel and the Occupied Territories today.

The US and Israel are loving the chance to pound Lebanon and move the border back again (invasion by Sunday I bet). The US is loving the chance to crank up the war rhetoric against Iran and Syria. Hezbollah and Hamas are loving the chance to crank up the extremist sentiments again and to please their Shiite brethern. Iranian and Syrian leaders can stand tall and act tough. Europe can sit on the sidelines and tsk tsk.

Meanwhile, it's estimated that about 500,000 Lebanese civilians have left their homes, several hundred are dead (one third are children
) and more than 1000 are wounded. The infrastructure in a recently rebuilt Lebanon is being methodically destroyed - this is not defence folks. More than 30 Israelis have also died, in rocket attacks, and the kidnapped soldiers are, of course, nowhere to be found.

Let me ask you? How is the cycle of revenge and 'measured' response working so far? Peace on the horizon? Two nation-states respecting each other? Milk and honey in the holy land? No kidding...

And this could easily escalate into a major war - some superstitious, melancholic, Bible and Koran toting nutjobs (lots of them) would love to see it. Hey! It's prophesized in the holy books. (When will the rational brain overcome the superstitious middle ages religious claptrap? But that's another post.)

It's time for strong condemnation of the targeting of civilians - on both sides. It's time for Israel to be reined in (are you listening George and Donald?). It's time for people all over the world to begin shouting that the only way to peace is if the strength and money of the world's powers come to the region to demand it. Israel with the right to exist. Palestine with secure borders and resources to build an economy - with whoever they democratically elect as leaders. Negotiate or lose your big fat donation cheques...all of you, including the Israeli Defence Force.

I am so sad for the mothers and babies, for the old grandmas and grandpas, for the boys and girls...for the land itself.

Interesting change of heart in the UK in the news today.

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Abhay's loss...

Those of you who know Abhay may want to visit his site and leave your thoughts for him in what is a difficult time. He has posted about the sudden death of his father in India (Abhay lives in Moscow).

Poetry contest draw

See second post down.

This is it...

I have written all the entrants' names on little slips of paper.

I'm putting them in a little handmade box (made by my daughter in woodworking class, but that's another story). Oh yeah...back to the draw.

I'm shaking it up (I can smell the nice scent of the oil she finished it with - the box that is...).

Okay, I'm putting my hand in (no peeking).. and the winner is: ABHAY!

I'll get in touch to send you your prize, my poetic brother.

Thanks to all.

Monday, July 17, 2006

LIVE WRITE Column for this week

This is my newspaper column for this week. Comments always welcome.


Have you ever read out loud to small children? If you want your children or grandchildren to live long, healthy lives – then read to them. But first read this article.

I’m certain my teenagers developed their love of reading at a very young age. They were read to a lot – every night at home and weekly at local library programs. Today they prefer books to television.

I remember stretching out in bed with them, reading Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are for the fiftieth time. They drifted off in their imaginations with Max, King of the Monsters, while their tired dad drifted in and out of a semi-conscious state, eventually muttering words not even remotely related those on the page. A tiny sharp elbow and a cry of “Dad, that’s wrong!” brought me abruptly back.

According to the British Columbia Teachers’ Federation, there are early experiences that are likely to produce readers, who then become literate citizens. Some of these experiences include seeing adults read, acting out stories, being read to aloud, finding books around the house, visiting the library with a loved one, owning books and setting aside time for reading.

Why is it so important to read? I would argue that reading is itself a gift and enriches life beyond measure. The Public Health Agency of Canada would add that print literacy is a significant contributor to a good life and to good health. In fact, recent research shows that people with low literacy skills are more likely to suffer chronic health problems and to die younger.

The scope of the problem becomes apparent, knowing that as many as a fifth of all adults in Canada have serious difficulty dealing with printed material at all. Another 25 percent are only able to deal with material that is simple and clearly laid out, including health-related information.

Just where does literacy fit in the big picture of health? Researchers have known for a long time that a healthy population is not based simply on individual choices. While it’s clear that not using tobacco, maintaining an active life (and healthy weight), eating nutritious food and avoiding injury are all important to health, it’s also clear that there are underlying factors that greatly affect our well-being.

I once heard a public health doctor put it this way, “If you want to live a long healthy life, there are some things you should take care of. First, choose your parents wisely. Then live in comfortable housing in a safe community, obtain a great education, be affluent, have a meaningful job and enjoy strong social networks.” He was making the point that to have a healthy society, these social needs must be addressed for all.

The Canadian Journal of Public Health recently published findings that make it clear that along with adequate income, housing, food, employment, social inclusion and education – we can add literacy to the list of determining factors for good health. In fact, evidence indicates that it may have more impact on the quality of our lives than education does.

This makes it important to support adult learning, to invest in early childhood development, to fund our libraries, to ensure strong universal education and to create documents in plain language.

Oh yes, and remember to read to the children at bedtime.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Summer Poetry Contest

This is the real thing... I have a prize to award! I won't reveal the prize in advance as it may intimidate you into not entering... or you may say, "Jeez - why write one word for that?"


Create a five line poem, in any format, rhyming or not. However, it must begin with this line:

I was young and free on a summer day

In order to be fair and just and Canadian ...to not offend any of my blogger friends, the winner will be chosen by a random draw.

Come on now, you all have it in you (and Lindsay, you can change the line to a winter day if you have to stay in the Aussie season.)

P.S. That's a photo of our house, taken from the community garden area at early evening. I like the lighting.

Saturday, July 08, 2006

Interesting day - the Vietnam era stirred up...

Today I listened to Arun Gandhi, grandson of Mahatma Gandhi (and peace leader himself) introduce Senator George McGovern, the former Democratic Presidential candidate who ran against Nixon. He's an elderly man now, yet fit and as articulate as he ever was.

This was part of an event near here that brought together many peace activists from the Vietnam years, along with many who chose to leave the US at that time and come to Canada (men and women).

The speeches (and music) were inspiring and certainly focused on today's unneeded and wrong-headed war in Iraq as well. George McGovern repeated words he spoke in Congress 30 years ago "When will old men who have never been to war stop sending our young off to fight and die?"

I was affected two ways today - first, it reinvigorated me to work for peace and to not be a passive observer or cynic. The second thing that happened is somehow the event triggered my youthful memories of marching against the Vietnam War, of feeling united in building something better, of the music, the people, the times, the hope... and all that. Maybe I was also just feeling my 20 year old self and sensing some of the loss since then.

Sorry for wandering here.

It was just before dawn when several hundred of us walked silently through the streets of Washington to reach the bridge into the city that was our particular target. More than 20,000 protesters had gathered to shut down Washington for a day ... to protest the US invasion of Laos, in a war that was supposed to be winding down.

Daylight arrived at the bridge as we did. We could barely see their shapes across the span - row after row of helmeted police, backed up by ranks of National Guard. We quickly moved on to the bridge deck and sat down. I was prepared to be passive, to not resist and to then be arrested and carried away. Maybe we'd stop traffic for a few hours at least.

In what seemed like seconds they were upon us. Marching in step and bashing their batons on their shields, they came. Now they were yelling and kicking and swinging at our heads and shoulders. No passive arrests going on here. I was struck on the shoulder with a baton, then across the back of the head. I saw people with blood coming down their faces, watched a young girl next to me be kicked in the abdomen.

Now I was running through residential streets, being chased by Guard and police - they didn't want to quietly arrest me, they wanted to beat the living shit out of me. I ran, I ducked, I hid and finally found my way to the Georgetown University campus. Riot police moved through the campus, dispersing crowds. Tear gas canisters were landing all around. My eyes were blinded and I couldn't breathe.

I made it into a dormitory looking for sanctuary. The first doors I opened I was told to get the hell out. Then a young woman let me in and I was safe for a while.

I spent that night wrapped in a blanket, sleeping in a ravine on campus. The next day I learned that we had failed to shut down anything, but that several thousand had been arrested and several hundred injured.

I spent the next couple of nights in a church protected by Black Panthers. No police would come near it.

I was invited to a party at a professional boxer's apartment (that's another story), where the good folks took a collection and gave me a pocketful of money. The next day, I got a lift to the highway and hitch-hiked back to Canada.

Thursday, July 06, 2006

Sign of the week...

This plumber gets marks for creativity...if not for class (click to embiggen).

Said the spider to the fly...

This lovely creature is working the space just outside our kitchen window. I leaned off the deck to get close and snap her photo - mountain background (click to embiggen... and see the web more clearly).

Tuesday, July 04, 2006

They Always Get Their Man

RCMP Constable Jason Tree and Constable David Connors exchanged vows this week in Yarmouth, Nova Scotia, before a justice of the peace and a troop of other Mounties. (story)

While same-sex marriage is becoming commonplace across Canada now, this was the first time (that I know of) that two of Canada's finest men, our very own Royal Canadian Mounted Police, took the plunge.

And before you hear it anywhere else, the joke about Brokeback Mounties has already made the rounds.

From the Halifax, Nova Scotia Chronicle Herald:
YARMOUTH — A harp played and the couple couldn’t stop smiling as they stood before family and friends to exchange vows of love and a lifetime of commitment. Then it was on to the reception where a white chocolate rose with a red tag sat on a red napkin at each setting.

Prime Minister Harper put a gag order on all Conservative Members of Parliament, demanding none make any public statements on the wedding. Guess he's worried about them speaking their (little) minds. Recent polls show that 62% of Canadians consider same sex marriage a done deal now.

Congrats Jason and David!

P.S. Whatever your orientation fellow bloggers, you have to admit they're kind of cute...

Monday, July 03, 2006

Happy (Be Vigilant) Canada Day

Nelson City Band on Canada Day

Okay, July 1st has come and gone and I enjoyed the feel-good Canada Day Focus. In fact, in the small town I live near (Nelson, BC) we have a visit-to-nostalgic-times celebration. It starts with the singing of Oh Canada at the flagpole in Lakeside Park (begun with a bagpipe entrance) - then we eat a huge cake (made in sections and joined together before icing). After non-partisan and sometimes even good speeches, there's a day of face-painting, sand sculpture competitions, kids entertainment, music & dancing, boat rides, hot dogs (okay, veggie dogs too, this is Nelson after all) and more. Some years there's even a dunk tank to splash local bigwigs into with a well-aimed pitch. It all ends with fireworks over the lake - courtesy of the local fire department.

Now the rant (you were warned by the title):

Canada has elected a minority Conservative government with a Prime Minister who is slick, smart, power-hungry and very much from the neo-conservative (with a touch of Jesus) background. Here are some things to keep in mind as we praise this country for its tolerance, reasonableness, compassion and beauty (which it has).

- We have removed ourselves from the Kyoto climate change accord with no replacement policy and lots of sucking up to oil interests.
- Same sex marriage is legal across the land - our new PM will bring it back to Parliament in the fall and offer the chance to reverse that.
- Decriminalization of marijuana was to be legislated this year (no criminal charges or record for possession of small amounts) - gone now.
- Big budget increases for police, borders, military, spies and customs... cuts to the budgets of the arts and culture, CBC, the environment, First Nations accord, childcare programs and more.
- The UN Human Rights Council worked for 10 years to bring forward a Declaration of the Rights of Indigenous Peoples. This important work was led by Canadians. Last week, when the Council voted to take it forward to the General Assembly, only 2 nations voted against it. You guessed it - Canada was one of them.
- Canada continues to have its own version of Anti-Terrorism law (Bill C-36) and it uses it. A number of men have been imprisoned now for up to 4 years - no charges, no trials, no information to them or their lawyers, indefinite imprisonment.
- Outcry against US 'torture planes' flying kidnapped prisoners through Canada's airspace? Not yet. We probably bring the coffee on for the pilots.
- Government protest and outcry against Guantanamo Bay Gulag? Not lately.

Be vigilant. Think of your children and grandchildren and don't fall asleep under this regime.

Still happy in Canada...but keeping an eye on the gnomes at the wheel,

Your Canadian Friend

Sunday, July 02, 2006

The bird feeder saga...

We have lots of hummingbirds at our feeders this year - wonderful, aggressive little birds. They hover in place like little frenzied helicopters of the bird world. Here are two photos of the feeder today with one visitor. This is followed by a photo of a finch, who visits and enjoys a little sweetened water like his tiny cousins do.

Hummer in flight

At the feeder

Mr. Finch

I've been tagged..

This is new to me - as I understand it, I now have to do this on my site, since Vee tagged me on hers.

I am thinking about...
Summer heat and where I'll be in five years.

I said...
"What time is the ice cream night start tonight?" (It's called Sundae Sunday at our community building tonight.)

I want to...
travel, write, love, live long.

I wish...
we all recognized the oneness of our human family.

I hear...
Steppenwolf playing in the next room - 19 year old son!

I wonder...
how hummingbirds evolved - was it by getting bigger or smaller?

I regret...
being unkind to someone named Susan many years ago.

I am...

I dance...
rarely and like a stiff old white guy.

I sing...
when others do - especially old folk songs.

I cry...
from books and film, not too often in real life.

I am not always...

I make with my hands...
words on a screen, flowers in my garden, motions when I talk.

I write...
because I am here.

I confuse...
fir trees with pine trees.

I need...

And finally...
may the road rise up to meet you and my you find peace within.

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