Wednesday, December 29, 2004
“Kill it,” I said.
“No, he’s nice, I’ll let him be.”
Ten minutes later, passing by his room, I asked after his new friend.
“I killed it.”
"A second one came by. It was too much. So I killed them both.”
That, a true story, is the closest I’ve ever come to a definition of god.
From the spider’s point of view, he was minding his own business, doing spider things like wall-crawling, when his life suddenly ended for no apparent reason.
As far as we know, spiders don’t have ways of handing down lessons from one generation to the next – except perhaps evolution but that tends to work rather slowly.
People do – hence, superstition, mythology, and religion are born.
People seem to prefer cause-and-effect concepts to live by.
It’s a control thing.
Unfortunately, in all but the simplest of cases, it doesn’t work that way.
We may have control of some of the minutia of daily life, but it is a fragile as the fate of a spider on the wall.
Consider, for example, the tsunami.
One minute you are relaxing on a beach, taking a well-earned vacation in paradise.
The next, if you are lucky enough to survive, nothing.
No more family.
No more hotel.
No more passport, money, belongings.
Just like that.
One minute you have a life, a home, a community.
Schools, shops, friends, a job, a reason to be.
The next, nothing.
Repeat millions of times over half a continent.
Bin Laden in his wildest dreams couldn’t accomplish something on that scale.
There are explanations, scientific ones.
Earthquake. Tectonic plates shifting, deep beneath the ocean, pushing aside the water.
All that energy has to go somewhere.
Why here? Why now? Incomprehensible to us.
It seems odd to contemplate destruction on a global scale while sitting quietly in my safe home in North America.
If I turn off the TV it goes away.
Events like this can’t help but give us some perspective, albeit briefly.
The stories will fade from the news, we will go back to gazing into our own navels and that’s as it should be, because that’s how it IS.
The best that can be hoped is that we learn something, something that will stay with us.
What we learn will depend on what we need to learn.
Ideally, that is.
For the unfortunate few whose minds are snapped completely shut, there is no new insight, for even though it exists all around them they cannot recognize it.
If you think I might be talking about you, you’re probably wrong. The ones I am thinking about have no idea, none.
I have learned (re-learned, really) the obvious: that I am blessed even though some of the details of my life are less than perfect; and that sweating the small stuff is ridiculous.
I am in the process of learning (although it really hasn’t fully sunk in yet) that the only reasonable response to events like this is to try to do better, for myself. To give myself what I need to not only survive, but thrive.
Not to do so would be wasting the gifts I’ve been given.
Thursday, December 09, 2004
Well, sort of.
We do things backwards here sometimes. We check with the courts BEFORE laws are even enacted.
I don’t understand all the ins and outs but from what I gather, the court declared that to bar same sex marriage would be unconstitutional but fell short of endorsing the concept wholeheartedly.
I have to read up more on this to get a better grasp of it.
In any case, the government will now proceed with legislation and it’s expected to pass.
Not without some debate and carrying on, of course, but that’s fair game.
Within Canada, the strongest opposition will probably come from Alberta which is our answer to Texas, complete with oil, cattle, and cowboy hats.
And the West Edmonton Mall, biggest in the Universe (or something) which is strange considering what a comparatively remote area it’s located in.
Edmonton is a CITY but not even of the scale of Toronto, Montreal or Vancouver, much less New York or L.A.
I guess the entrepreneurs are bigger, out west.
Still no lights or anything on the contraption in the park, so I guess Christmas tree isn’t it.
Oh here’s some news:
A few weeks ago, Rob quit his band.
It was a difficult decision for him but he said he’d been looking for a way out for awhile now, and having a big argument with the singer provided him the opportunity.
He’s getting more involved with his course work in Commerce and has even signed up for extra credits.
He says he still wants to be involved with music but the idea of having success with this band isn’t appealing to him anymore.
He finds the idea of possibly touring, “depressing”.
I think he means the living conditions which aspiring bands endure (and sometimes thrive on) aren’t for him.
He was always a high-maintenance sort of kid, with regard to creature comforts.
I’m actually quite awed by his maturity. He has more common sense at 20 than I can ever hope to have.
Giving up, or giving up on a dream is one thing, but recognizing that the dream has outlived its usefulness is quite another.
Tuesday, December 07, 2004
Obesity linked to lack of sleep
It’s a hormone thing (isn’t everything nowadays?)
Too little sleep seems to result in more hungry-hormone, while sufficient sleep stimulates the I'm-full-hormone.
Or else, people who sleep less have more time to stuff their faces.
People who sleep less theoretically have more time to exercise too – but we don’t do that!
Another study I read about recently claims that sleep deprivation helps in the treatment of depression.
So we can either be fat and happy – or slim and miserable.
Is there really even a choice?
Offensive TV commercial of the day:
For Dell computers: the one where the “Dellf” comes driving up the street to deliver a prize package consisting of an SUV filled with electronic goodies, and a guy out shoveling his walk mistakenly thinks the prize is coming to his house.
Sadly, it belongs to his neighbour instead, and when that family is happily dancing around, celebrating, all of a sudden they hear a big THUD as a shovel-full of snow hits the SUV.
The camera shifts to the shoveller who has an odd sort of guilty-but-I’m-glad-I-did-it look on his face.
With the standards of behaviour in North American society at an all-time low, I’m discouraged that a major American business sees fit to market its products with a display of petty jealousy, small-mindedness and ill will.
This is a commercial on commercial TV – this is a reflection of life as we’d like it to be, filled with happy, wealthy consumers, who should at least show the generosity of spirit to celebrate the good fortune of others.
Besides, if he played nicely, maybe they’d share.
Or at least not be tempted to poison his dog, which is the least I’d think about doing if my neighbour shoveled snow onto my new SUV.
(No no, I wouldn’t poison a dog. Relax.)
Marketing reflects our values but more than that, it can shape them. These messages are seen over and over, and have to make an impression even if consciously ignored.
While I don’t expect marketers to show social responsibility at the expense of profit, surely the two can work together - if only in the land of Things-As-We’d-Like-Them-To-Be.
If you are a potential editor, try this one please:
Or any of these:
Sunday, December 05, 2004
Not officially, not for two more weeks, but if it looks, feels, and smells like winter, it’s winter.
I don’t like winter. For that matter, I don’t like summer either when it’s hot, humid and buggy.
Give me perpetual spring and fall.
I look at winter as just one more thing to put up with in order to live here. I like Canada and I even like Quebec, infuriating as the politics may be at times.
The cost of living is reasonable compared to Toronto and Vancouver.
Montreal is still a major city although it lost its title as largest Canadian city to Toronto some time in the 1970s.
I’m still annoyed about that.
But back to winter.
I think winter is like giving birth.
You forget, from one time to the next.
Otherwise, nobody would have a sibling and nobody would live north of the 40th parallel.
(40th? Make that the 30th.)
If it weren’t for the holiday season, which if nothing else is a major distraction, people would probably feel like slitting their throats about now.
For years we escaped to Florida for the last two weeks of December, but I don’t miss that.
It wasn’t worth the trouble to me (traveling with two small children!) except for the part about seeing my father.
One year (1998) we came home to the famous ice storm.
Another year we had to turn back after a full day of driving because Mark came down with chicken pox.
Ah the joys of kids.
Other than the most dramatic, most of my winter memories are good ones – so good in fact that they’re probably winter fantasies, coloured more by my romantic nature than by reality.
Winter is fun for kids, of course, who don’t have to chisel ice off cars and battle traffic and idiot drivers who are clearly in denial.
The snow piled up higher in those days.
Or maybe I was shorter.
Or maybe the city blew the snow from the street onto the lawns instead of carting it away in trucks as they do now.
Even into my late teens, winter wasn’t so bad. It can be lovely on a college campus when big flakes fall in a windless night and are silhouetted like stars by the street lamps.
Unfortunately that only happens at most once a year.
Many adults rediscover winter when they have their own children.
I never did but luckily their father was into it, and took them sledding and hiking around the large parks in our area.
One of them (the parks) has a barn with a few farm animals and a greenhouse with (what else?) plants which gave them an opportunity to warm up.
It didn’t work for me because I’m allergic to animals (sigh) but after awhile I wasn’t required to go along on those expeditions, giving me some precious ALONE time.
Alone time is very important to hermits like me, although I tend to overdo it at times.
There’s a thin line between solitude and isolation.
One more thing before I wrap up today:
Check this out if you like tawdry government scandals. Those Brits sure know how to do it up right!
Saturday, December 04, 2004
I’ve been sitting here for almost an hour, surfing news sites for inspiration but it’s not happening.
So you’re being treated to 500 words of drivel.
“Nothing” to write about isn’t exactly true.
Nothing I really care to get into at the moment is more accurate.
Maybe I’m feeling too mellow.
Mellow isn’t good for creativity.
I’m not sleepy – had too much coffee for that – just feeling content.
Had a nice quiet day at home.
Read, surfed, played backgammon, researched some markets, sent out a query letter, ordered in lunch with Rob (we were too lazy to even go out), did minimal housework, and procrastinated writing.
There are a few things I intend to write about soon.
One is the stripper thing.
I can’t get over that the Government of Canada had, until this week, a specific program for importing strippers.
They provide temporary work permits for people with skills that are in shortage in Canada.
Apparently we don’t have enough strippers.
There is so much wrong with this I don’t know where to begin, but not tonight.
Another issue is depression, specifically post partum depression and psychosis.
Another mother made the news this week, this one in Toronto. She is said to have killed her husband, the eldest of her three small children, and herself.
They aren’t saying for sure that depression is the cause but it’s a pretty good bet.
People need to start taking this seriously.
Some other weird happenings: it seems that hundreds of uniforms and badges belonging to airport security staff in various parts of Canada have gone missing.
Just like that.
And some company in Europe has had to stop issuing special screensavers that are programmed to spam the spammers. They use the idle processor time to communicate with servers that are known to belong to spammers, in the hope of “slowing them down”.
But it’s not a denial of service attack. N’uh uh.
Vigilante screensavers. Surely there’s a better way.
While reading about that, I came across this:
Cell phone towers in camouflage
I thought he was joking!
Finally, some good news:
Exercise offers few health benefits for some
Yes because it lessens the guilt I feel for being a couch potato!
According to the study, exercise doesn’t have the same beneficial effect in all people, and the range is rather large, extending down all the way to practically useless.
Okay those are my words.
I’ve never had the self discipline to stick with an exercise plan. The closest I came was taking aqua fitness in a senior’s class (I was in my 30s at the time) for a few months.
That was okay but for some reason it didn’t last.
We used to have an exercise bike but I found it dreadfully uncomfortable. We have a treadmill but I find it dreadfully boring, even with the TV on in front of it.
So now I can tell myself, it wouldn’t have helped me anyway!
Friday, December 03, 2004
I’ve posted photos of the park before, and this is what it looked like several summers ago:
This year they enlarged the sand area (most of the foreground from center to left) a bit and replaced the old climb-slide apparatus – the yellowish-brown thing at the far left.
The green space in the distance is a soccer field; the building in the center is a pool house, behind it is a basketball court and behind the tree on the right is a baseball field.
Pretty cool, except in winter. They used to put in a skating rink or two but haven’t done that in a few years so there’s really nothing going on there between soccer and baseball seasons.
On Tuesday, I noticed some workmen digging holes in the sand – the sand that had only been spread a few weeks previously during extensive rebuilding.
On Wednesday I looked out the window and there was this BIG thing in the middle of the road. I guess it was some sort of crane, and it was high, even higher than the light post.
There was a cable with a big hook at the end of it, and if the operator hadn’t been careful, that hook might have hit my car!
Soon a tall metal pole was in place in the middle of the sandbox, and a bunch of men began working with a huge tangle of red wires and some netting.
First I thought it might be a lamppost and the wires would go underground, but no, they anchored the wires into the sand in various places as if they were tent wires, and strung them up to the pole.
Here’s a photo of the final result; please click on it for a larger version.
We still can’t figure out what it’s supposed to be.
The two obvious suggestions are jungle-gym (climbing thing) and stylized Christmas tree, neither of which makes much sense.
It’s WAY too high to be a climbing thing for small children.
The Housemate declared that there was a big sign on it saying, CLIMB ME AND DIE and indeed, when I arrived home from bowling that day, three teenage boys were happily climbing it.
Christmas tree? That would be nice – but it would be ridiculous for the city to put it in our park because only the local residents would see it, at most a couple of hundred people. Nobody comes through here to get to anywhere else.
Besides, there are no lights or decorations on it (yet?).
My idea is, they will put some kind of tarp over it and make it a quasi-tent so kiddies can play in the sand in shade.
I welcome your suggestions or guesses, both serious and humourous, in the comments section.
Thursday, December 02, 2004
I heard from the editor again and she said they are now planning to use the story in January because they have some time-sensitive material to use first.
It’s all good, I just have to be patient.
And keep writing and submitting!
If nothing else, now I know I’m capable.
I also thought better of using that photo. This is the best alternative I could find:
But now I guess I have more time to scrape up a new one.
In other news:
Our local paper printed an excerpt from a Chicago Sun Times column by Neil Steinberg:
Neighbor above looks down on us below
Imagine a difficult, unpleasant task. Changing a flat tire on a rainy stretch of road, say. You're outside, drenched, cold, kneeling on gravel, grimacing, putting your weight on the tire iron, trying to crack a lug nut. A car stops. The window rolls down. And a smug voice calls out, "You know, if you rotated those tires regularly, like you're supposed to, they wouldn't wear out so quickly -- and keep a poncho in the trunk. Just a tip." Then the car drives away in a spray of gravel.
That's Canada. Misplaced superiority dipped in a thick coat of contempt. President Bush is there now, trying to slake Canada's endless thirst for American attention.
Fat chance. Does the American gaze that Canada ordinarily craves make it happy? Of course not. Our frosty neighbor to the north is convulsed in protest because the U.S. is actually engaged in trying to address the woes of the world, instead of sitting on its thumbs and complaining.
I've met Canadians, and while they can, with effort, muster periodic bursts of charm, and even express an occasional amazed, who'd-a-thunk-it appreciation of the United States, their general attitude is that of an elderly dutchess who has used tongs to pick up a bug from the Oriental carpet and is examining it through her lorgnette with open, nose-wrinkling disgust as she transports it to the dustbin.
I have trouble believing that a preponderance of Americans think that way.
Actually I believe that many Americans don’t think about Canada at all, and while that used to irritate me, maybe it’s a good thing if this is the alternative.
In any case, he is just dead wrong, and I can support my argument using only two numbers: 9-11.
When planeloads of people, many of them American, were stranded in Canada when North American air space was abruptly shut down, Canadians welcomed strangers into their homes. Some formed relationships that endure to this day.
The CBC recently aired a report on a Canadian family that threw together a wedding for their unexpected house guests, who were on their way to Las Vegas but couldn’t get there on time.
A bug in tongs? Hardly.
We don’t DO superiority. We are probably the most self-effacing nation on earth.
I’m reminded of a Canadian commercial for a hair care product that aired a few years back. The shampoo (or whatever) was touted as “as good as need be”.
That’s the epitome of Canadian-ism.
We don’t gloat, we don’t crow, we don’t throw dirt in anyone’s face. We may disagree, and in the case of US foreign policy it is a measurable fact that we DO disagree. We may protest because it is our right and even our responsibility to do so. That used to be the case in the US too, but protesting seems to have fallen victim to the restraints of political correctness in America, depending of course what colour state you’re in.
As for our “endless thirst for American attention”, it’s like saying a child starving in Africa has an “endless appetite for food”.
A little will do just fine.
President Bush’s visit is four years overdue. Traditionally, a newly elected US president’s first foreign visit has been to Canada; Bush’s was to Mexico. He is also trying to make up for taking our help on 9-11 for granted; Canada was not mentioned among the nations thanked during the speech later in September.
And I don’t believe for a moment that your president traveled to Canada in November merely to humour us. No, he wants us to join in on the missile defense project. We’re not sure about that one, yet, but we won’t be bullied into it.
Frankly, Bush should be glad he didn’t fall victim to the usual Canadian form of self-expression:A nice tasty pie in the face.
Yes, that was a dry run, to see if what I wanted to write about that, would come out. And it did.
The 500 word exercise is having an effect already!
Wednesday, December 01, 2004
I SOLD A STORY!!!!!!!!!!!!!
…to Women’s eNews, an online feminist publication.
It’s the article concerning same-sex marriage that I mentioned in an entry earlier this week.
The magazine editor emailed me this afternoon, saying they are expecting to “run” it next Wednesday and asking me for some revisions and (gulp) a photo.
As soon as I stop shaking, I will frantically rummage through my hard drive.
I quickly glanced at the file they sent me and saw several possible publication dates, with Dec. 8 being the earliest.
So I won’t obsess if it doesn’t turn out then.
Okay, I’ll try not to obsess.
I also saw some edits, some of which in my esteemed opinion are not for the better but what the heck.
She (the editor) asked a few questions and made a few suggestions so I have a little more research to do.
As soon as I stop shaking, that is.
A couple of the edits indicate that the editor assumes that I’m a same sex partner.
I’m flattered. It means I really got my point across.
In the interests of accuracy I will re-edit but I hope she’s not disappointed.
Some of my long-suffering readers may remember that I “sold” something about a year ago.
Well, sort of.
Our local paper, the Montreal Gazette, accepted an article and published it –
but they never paid me!
I still have the e-mail where they offered me $200.
I should have known something was up when they called to confirm details, and I mentioned the fee to the person on the other end.
He replied, “Um, yes, right, $200.00.”
A few weeks later, I emailed them. No reply.
I tried phoning but my calls weren’t returned.
I pretty much gave up, (yes I know but I really didn’t have the energy to pursue it) until, at the workshop given by a local freelance writer, I learned that I was supposed to invoice them.
You’d think my calls and emails would be close enough, sort of an invoice-like event. Even if only to maintain good will.
I also learned that contracts are involved. I never saw a contract from the Gazette.
The writer leading the workshop was surprised by my story. She worked for the paper as a reporter for awhile and found them to be reliable.
I actually did invoice them after that but, predictably, nothing.
I can’t cancel my subscription because it’s the only English daily in Montreal. But I will not grace them with my writing again, at least not until and unless they pay up!
Anyway, back to the present: I can’t find ANY photo that I like except maybe this one:
I’ll have Rob take some new photos tomorrow.
Oh yes, this is the website:
and my article would be in the “Commentary” section.
I originally found the magazine through the Writer’s Market site, so that really does work.
Monday, November 29, 2004
Now I know why Rob conned me into getting him a new printer. This one is the most MADDENING thing on earth.
It’s a Lexmark All-in-One. It prints, scans and copies.
Up until now I’ve been e-mailing my documents and printing them upstairs but I finally decided to try (not for the first time) to get this one going on my new computer.
Else I’d have to resort to my six year old Epson which was a great printer but is starting to get a little edgy.
On the surface the Lexmark looks promising. No big bulky printer cable. No weird installation on an LPT port. Nice CD software included.
The first time I tried to install it, in the middle of the installation it informed me that my “right” ink cartridge was missing.
In order to look for the cartridge you have to lift the top part of the printer, which is actually the scanner, and dig around in the bowels.
Rob wasn’t home and I was expecting a hassle-free installation, so I just aborted for the time being.
So today I steeled myself for problems and tried again.
I got the same message but decided to really look for the cartridges.
I could see their containers (one black, one colour) lurking on the far right side of the printer innards.
My old printer had a nice button which, when pushed, caused the cartridges to noisily slide over to the middle.
No such button here.
I’d have to try it manually, despite my fear of having something happen to my fingers. I don’t like shoving them into dark spaces where sharp things might be waiting to pounce on me.
Since I’m typing this, you can guess that I survived that ordeal. I removed the “absent” right cartridge, looked at it, and replaced it firmly. The program seemed to accept that.
Then it printed a test page!
It was adequate, except that none of the colour tests came out. But that was okay, Rob had told me the colour no longer worked. He wasn’t sure if the cartridge was empty or not but since he didn’t have much use for colour printing, didn’t really care.
(His new printer is a black and white laser, and works like a dream.)
I can do without colour – my Epson had given that up awhile ago, too.
Unfortunately there seems to be no easy way to check ink levels here (unlike the sainted Epson) and when I finally did find the utility, it indicated that both were full.
Maybe one day I’ll find the nozzle cleaning utility, if there is one.
So on to printing, for my bowling league.
There are many printing options.
I can print a photograph! A banner! A transparency! A booklet! An envelope!
But nothing for printing a PLAIN PIECE OF PAPER.
I try file, print, enter – ERROR MESSAGE.
The printer is not communicating with the computer.
They suggest I reconnect/reboot.
Done, same thing.
Nothing in the “Troubleshooting” section has this problem.
Finally realize that all the abortive installations have created several copies of the printer and the wrong one was “default”.
Deleted all the others.
Felt good about it.
What’s worse: for part of the time, the TV was on behind me and the Rolling Stones were singing the Lexmark commercial. I have it running in my head now… “VEry compliCA-ted”… No kidding.
And the print quality isn’t great, either.
Good enough for bowling league but not for school or anything official.
I must thank Rob for having me buy him the laser.
Thursday, November 25, 2004
Sunday, November 14, 2004
Thursday, November 11, 2004
send me e-mail forwards warning of sudden death from inhaling rat droppings.
I would sooner read a plea for help with your Nigerian inheritance.
And if you commit the UNPARDONABLE sin of including .cc email addresses unto the tenth generation, I WILL reply to them all with the relevant snopes.com de-mythtifying page.
I've done it before, most recently about a minute ago.
AND NO JOKES, CLEARLY I HAVE NO SENSE OF HUMOUR!
Okay so far...
However several ABC affiliates have refused to screen it... because of VIOLENCE AND BAD LANGUAGE and the fear that the FCC will get them on those grounds.
It's okay with the government to send kids to war but not to portray it.
Is there anybody out there????? The hypocrisy is stunning.
Saturday, November 06, 2004
Here's the background;
I like to think that this kind of thing is going out of style.
It's old, you know, very old.
Why is the Bloc Quebecois even still here? Because they get elected and get to go to Ottawa and sit around and pound on the furniture and collect their salaries.
As part of the GOVERNMENT OF CANADA.
If they don't like it, let them not stand for election.
Canada is probably the only country that elects members of a party dedicated to its destruction to the very government in supposed jeopardy. It's retarded.
So if you got the protest vote (and I can relate to that) at least behave yourselves and do your freakin' job!
Friday, November 05, 2004
...as reported by the CBC.
"Sask." is Saskatchewan, a province directly across the US border from Montana and North Dakota - both of which voted to ban same-sex marriage just this week.
It is the seventh Canadian province or territory to make this decision, joining Ontario, British Columbia, Quebec, Manitoba, the Yukon and Nova Scotia, according to the CBC article.
It doesn't seem to be that big of a deal up here, either. Sometimes you hear a few mutters and grumbles from members of the Conservative Party but on the whole there isn't much resistance to the concept, not that I've noticed anyway.
Personally I just can't see any reason why same-sex marriage shouldn't be allowed, and many reasons why it should, for instance, to ban it is discriminatory; and if anything it would contribute to the stability of society by fostering committment between partners.
But what do I know...
Wednesday, November 03, 2004
Okay, that's how it has to be.
Given what I'm hearing on CNN, Kerry will have to concede. Ohio doesn't add up and most important, Bush won the popular vote.
In 2000 Gore won the popular vote and the Democrats squawked; whether or not the system is fair is another debate but now that Bush has won the numbers, the Democrats need to suck it up and move on.
I don't like it - but I don't have to like it, nor do the minority of Americans who voted for Kerry.
Bring on Hillary...
Monday, November 01, 2004
Sunday, October 31, 2004
And I'm not even IN the United States.
If I could vote - I'd vote for Kerry.
As would a preponderance of Canadians according to some poll I read about recently.
Only the Albertans aren't too sure about him - something having to do with beef going across the border, mad cow, yadda yadda, whatever.
What does strike me as interesting:
It can be argued (and I believe it) that the Republicans use fear-mongering to win votes.
In the most recent Canadian election, a mere four months ago, it was the left wing that attempted to keep the re-emerging Conservative Party down, with similar tactics.
In the US, Liberal is a dirty word; in Canada it's the ruling party.
On election graphics, Canadian Liberals are red, like the Republicans while Canadian Conservatives are blue, like the democrats.
I don't even begin to know where I belong, but I suspect my Conservative leanings here put me somewhere to the LEFT of the Democratic party there.
Two more days - until the recounts, of course...
Saturday, October 30, 2004
And I thought it was ridiculous when the City of Toronto (my favourite whipping boy) tried to rename its Christmas Tree as a Holiday Tree.
I'm not a big fan of Halloween. I don't like the idea of children out in the streets begging strangers for candy; I don't like to walk into my local Walmart and be confronted with big black spiders which freak me out in the split second it takes before I realize they're fake.
I don't like the images of horror and death.
Halloween flies in the face of common sense, of what a celebration should be. Thanksgiving, National Days, Labour Day, various religious celebrations all have obvious positive raisons d'etre.
Even the dreaded Valentine's Day has its heart in the right place.
(pun intended, of course!)
But to a child, Halloween is a chance to dress in costume, to go out after dark, to ring door bells and be greeted (ideally) with approval and... CANDY!
All more or less unacceptable behaviours the rest of the year.
Like it or not, it's part of North American culture. I can even consider an argument that it's a good thing in that it encourages us to confront our fears, laugh at them and make fun of them.
Even to rehearse, in a safe environment, our reaction to real danger.
In any case, citing a fear of offending real witches along with a couple of other lame excuses for cancelling the holiday in that Washington State school system gives me a reason to wonder just how toxic are the fumes from Mt. St. Helens, anyway...
Friday, October 29, 2004
If I lived in Iran, I could be thrown in jail for doing what I'm doing right now:
posting my thoughts on the internet.
Censorship is nothing new, of course. It's just that I'm used to thinking about it in Cold War terms. But "red" is good and "liberal" is bad now so I better update my sensibilities.
I used to think my mother was paranoid. Now, looking back, I realize she was realistic given the context of the times.
In school we had a "Norman Bethune" society, a local charity where we were encouraged to volunteer. My mother came as close to forbidding me to join as she could, and since I didn't really care anyway, I humoured her.
Now I realize that the images of the McCarthy hearings and the trial and eventual execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg, all of which occurred around the time I was born, were still fresh in her mind.
In University, students in the freshman psychology class were recruited to undergo some basic memory tests. Nothing fancy, just flash card stuff, as I recall.
My then-boyfriend threw a fit and strongly discouraged my participation.
Again I conceded. I only take a stand when it's really important to me.
(Whether that's a good thing is a subject for another time.)
Years later, it came out that patients in the hospital affiliated with the university were being used as guinea pigs for the CIA.
I still don't think it would have affected me as a student, and I still don't know how my friend got wind of it or what made him suspicious way back then, but I can no longer ascribe it merely to paranoia.
More recently, I recall my son Mark's nervousness during our celebration of New Year's 2000, in Fort Lauderdale.
He kept whining about terrorists and bombs.
Paranoia just ain't what it used to be anymore.
So I don't plan to move to Iran anytime soon but I do plan to blog - because I can.