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Thursday, November 30, 2006

PMS Survival Tips

Thanks to Karena for this one. And honestly you women readers, I don't find this kind of mocking funny at all. I only post this as a public service. Men - you don't need to see this.

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Iran leader appeals to US people

Okay, the President of Iran is a bit of a nutcase...ask some of the more brave Iranian bloggers what they think...

However, he has to be dealt with and was elected by his people (remember good old democratic process). His latest move has been a letter directly to the American people, asking them to reject President Bush's policies. (story)

Here's a quote from the letter that is actually hard for me to disagree with.

"If the US government meets the current domestic and external challenges with an approach based on truth and justice, it can remedy some of the past afflictions and alleviate some of the global resentment and hatred of America." he said.
Maybe these two Presidents should be given time-outs together - forced to sit on a desert island somewhere (preferably in orange jumpsuits) until they can play nicely and work for sanity and peace. I'd be happy to feed, water and watch them if someone wants to organize it.


Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Deep Freeze Beauty

Two photos this morning, from the front porch as I ran out in my PJs to get firewood. One - minutes before 7:00 am and one - minutes after. It was about 10 below zero celsius this morning. That's pretty cold...even here.

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

For those in Darfur and Chad...

If you go to this link , you can listen to a recorded report from Chad from Alex Neve, an Amnesty International leader from Canada (and a friend and colleague). It's not easy to listen to, but I think it's important. I hope we can wake up our governments - and that intervention will happen soon.

I worked in Darfur many years ago (with the Red Cross). I saw a video clip on the news last year of a village burning (after murder and rape beyond comprehension) - it was a village I visited years ago to meet with the leaders and assess the children's health.

I tune all this out sometimes, because it's just too much... Other times I'm sad - right now I'm mad.

Monday, November 20, 2006

Religion anyone?

I invite you to put your thoughts down here too...

My life course so far has led me through a few stages of religious or
spiritual approach. They can be simplified to:

- Born and baptized as a Christian- Anglican Church (as with almost all religions, inherited by place of birth and parents)

- Sunday school and church into my teens, with a brief flirtation with considering the priesthood (Anglicans can marry) - I lost my faith when I began reading, thinking and well... smoking a little pot. I went to Catholic mass many times during this period...because my girlfriend's parents required it.

- Spiritual-seeking stage - over a few years I studied Buddhism, joined (and left) the Bahai faith, looked at Christianity again (while living in Israel) and then explored eastern mysticism

- I met and spent 10 years with a Guru from India, including 8 years as a monastic (me, not him). This took me to my early 30s.

- Since them - no religious practice (I meditate every day), very little faith in the superstitious and a growing faith in the rational mind and the unexplainable transcendent experience (not needing a definition and definitely not needing a religion).

I respect people's right to believe whatever they want, but don't respect everything others believe. For example, if President Bush said that his shoes were talking to him and telling him who to invade, he might be locked up (not a bad idea). However, when he says he's having little talks with God about such things, it gets him votes...

Another example: poor Moses led the Hebrew people for 40 years in the desert - trying to get to what is now Israel from Egypt. I'm sorry, but it can be walked in a couple of weeks without too much effort, especially if you can go right through the Red Sea! One simply walks toward the rising sun. Forty years! This guy was deluded and those following him needed more than golden calves. Good story though.

There, that's a far too simplistic opening post on religious thought.

My basic pondering these days is around this question: Does the good in religion outweigh the negative? While it's complex - the Dalai Llama is not the Pope for example - on balance, I'd say no it doesn't.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Time for a poem

Some of you know that my teenage son Ryan writes poetry (on an old manual typewrite no less). He's been working hard lately to raise money for a trip this winter to Thailand and New Zealand (at least). But he keeps writing. Here's a sample that I like.

Love: An Exercise in Concrete and Abstract Nouns

Love is the rose that blossoms,
Bright red, pink, white petals
Reflecting the burning passion
Of the sun.
But love is not just the rose itself.
It is the Earth that the rose is
Firmly planted in,
The water
That provides life to the heart of the rose,
And the air that is the invisible backdrop
Behind the process
Of everything that takes place.

Love sits quietly in the depths of the soul of creation
It flows through me when my mind tunes in
And fuses with my heart.
Manifesting as a glowing light filling
The void of timlessness with a
Clarity and peacefulness
That lies at the base of everything
I do not know.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Some rambling thoughts on Remembrance Day...

My father, Gordon Ockenden - at 20 years old

Archive photo of the first Allied landing strip behind the beach after D-Day - in the Spitfire sits my dad...
(click to see larger)

In Canada, November 11th is Remembrance Day and it is a big deal. I go each year to the cenothaph in Nelson and with 1,000 or more others souls I remember the war dead, sing together, listen to short speeches (often bad) and stand with the men and women vets. In my years in Nelson, the WWI vets have all died and the WWII men and women are pretty old now - in their 80s. Today, there were words for our troops in Afghanistan as well (and the 42 dead so far).

This is not a political day for me - not a day to debate current or past conflicts or to argue about how we can reach peace in this generation. While I know most war casualties in the past 100 years were civilian (and care deeply about that) - today is the day I stand with the soldiers. It's also a day when I think of boys the age of my son Ryan (mostly boys, in the past at least).

When my father was a Spitfire pilot over Normandy with RCAF 443 Squadron in World War II, he was one of 24 Canadian pilots in the Squadron. Several were boyhood friends. The day he shot down his first German plane, he was onl 20. On D-Day itself, only one of the 24 men he flew with was 21 years old. About one year later, twelve of them were dead. That shaped my father in ways that are profound and awful. (Web link on my dad)

Ryan (my son) is saving his money to travel to Thailand and New Zealand this winter - to explore, enjoy and learn about life. What a contrast.

Both of my grandfathers, Robert and Fred, were in the trenches in World War I. Robert was shot twice by snipers and Fred was gassed and spent a year recovering. They were little older than boys at the time.

Every dead soldier was somebody's little boy or girl. Many were someone's husband or wife and many were somone's dad or mom. Every life lost in battle is a wasted life.

In the 21st century, if we succeed at only one thing, let it be learning to resolve our conflicts without war.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Winter has arrived - my mind is elsewhere...

Okay, it's snowed here already and there is a lot of snow on the mountains that surround us. Some people claim to love winter...they just can't wait to play in the snow. (Most children fit this categoary as I once did.)

I'm a proud Canadian, but I've managed to live winters out at various times in my life in:
I didn't miss the snow in a single one of those journeys. In honour of winter I offer a couple of photos from a visit to La Manzanilla Mexico last winter (village of 1200 souls on the Pacific coast). Click to see larger.

Sunset from our deck

Fossil fuel free transport ... fun too.

Who's for torture?

This is an interesting poll. To me it's hopeful (since most human beings are still opposed to torture - even when the airwaves are infused with fear mongering).

By the way, the research on torture shows that in addition to being a human rights abomination... it doesn't work...doesn't produce reliable intelligence. Turns out most of us will tell anyone anything we think they want to know - pretty damn quickly when deprived, beaten, nearly drowned, starved, sexually assaulted, electrocuted, etc... Duh?

What do you think?

The survey was carried out for the BBC World Service by polling firm Globescan and the Program on International Policy Attitudes (PIPA). I have shown only a selection of countries - full item here.

Views on torturing prisoners (3 columns of numbers match headings)
Country 1. Against all torture* 2. Some degree permissible** 3. Neither/Don't Know

Australia 75% 22% 3%
Brazil 61% 32% 8%
Canada 74% 22% 4%
Chile 62% 22% 16%
China 49% 37% 13%
France 75% 19% 6%
Gt Britain 72% 24% 4%
India 23% 32% 45%
Iraq 55% 42% 1%
Israel 48% 43% 9%
Russia 43% 37% 19%
Spain 65% 16% 19%
US 58% 36% 7%

*27,000 respondents in 25 countries were asked which position was closer to their own views:

* Clear rules against torture should be maintained because any use of torture is immoral and will weaken international human rights standards against torture.
** Terrorists pose such an extreme threat that governments should now be allowed to use some degree of torture if it may gain information that saves innocent lives.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

Nicholas Cage 1 Lords of War 0

In response to my post below about the Control Arms Campaign, Tina commented thus:

I knew next to nothing substantial about internalal arms wheeling and dealing until I watched the 2005 Nicolas Cage film "Lord of War." It opened my eyes. Of course the US refused to sign it. Here's one of Cage's character's most telling lines: Yuri Orlov: The reason I'll be released is the same reason you think I'll be convicted. I do rub shoulders with some of the most vile, sadistic men calling themselves leaders today. But some of these men are the enemies of your enemies. And while the biggest arms dealer in the world is your boss - the President of the United States, who ships more merchandise in a day than I do in a year - sometimes it's embarrassing to have his fingerprints on the guns. Sometimes he needs a freelancer like me to supply forces he can't be seen supplying. So. You call me evil, but unfortunately for you, I'm a necessary evil.
Well, to add to the good news, Nick Cage recently donated $2 million to Amnesty International for two causes - to support the Control Arms campaign and to work on behalf of child soldiers. I liked the movie...love the act of this donation.

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