Sunday, May 29, 2011

Are Animals Sentient Beings?

By now, probably everyone in the known universe has seen the following video.  I think it has been viewed several million times, but perhaps this will make it several million and one. There has been some debate recently over whether animals are sentient beings. I have always felt they are. How often have we witnessed an animal doing something, and we have said, "That's almost human..." I remember when I was a little girl, my brother told me that humans are animals, and I didn't understand it. How could we be animals? We're human. But I realize now that humans and animals share much more than we realize. And sometimes, judging by some human behaviour, we are fortunate to share some animal characteristics. And yes, I believe animals are sentient beings ~~ very much so.

All together now, "Awwwwww...."

The Cult Of Celebrity

The cult of celebrity is something that has always been a mystery to me.  I don't understand it.  When someone becomes famous, it's almost the same as when someone passes away; they become imbued with qualities that they perhaps really did not possess.  It must be a psychological thing, a part of the human psyche, to admire people and put them onto an unrealistic pedestal.  It was said that Princess Diana became so overwhelmed with her own celebrity that she developed a "God complex" and felt she had the power to heal people.  She believed the touch of her hand, or her very presence, was enough to cure serious illnesses, to the annoyance of more than one doctor in the hospitals and clinics she visited.

I have never been a huge fan of Oprah Winfrey. I don't understand her cult following; it puzzles me. Oprah first began her career as a journalist and a talk show host. She interviewed people -- interesting people. But somewhere along the way the show started to be about her. Oprah almost became a religion. When she signed off the other day, folks were posting to her website:

"Your shows cleaned my soul and opened my heart every time. Thank you so much for wonderful TV-hours."

"I have seen a spot of light around you for all these years you were shining every sunset replacing sun's ray with your hopeful smile, spreading love and understanding all over the world, with your simplicity and humility."

"It is my opinion that Oprah, without children of her own, adopted the world as her children."

"I am so PROUD to be an Oprah believer. I have been watching, following, agreeing, and loving your agenda for years!"

"I remember when I was a child I would get angry with my mother because she had to watch "Oprah" and all I wanted to do was watch cartoons. Then as I got older, I realized that mother truly did know best and then "Oprah" turned into my little piece of heaven every day."

"Cleaned my soul"? ... "Ray of light"? ... "Adopted the world as her children?" ..."Little piece of heaven?" ..."Agenda?"

There are over 2,300 comments exactly like these, and they are downright frightening. She's a talk show host and a businesswoman, folks, not the Messiah.

The key to success seems to be to affect a persona and stick to it.  Get that persona out there until it permeates every corner of the media.  If you're famous, sheeple people will be devoted.

Oprah now has her own television network, and interestingly the acronym for her initials is OWN.  That frightens me even more.  I have watched a couple of the programs on her network, and it is more of the same "This is what Oprah believes, so you should believe it too".  Unfortunately, there are too many people who can't - or chose not to - think for themselves.  So, they are very easily influenced by someone who does their thinking for them.

In 1998 there was a movie called "The Truman Show" starring Jim Carrey. It was a movie about a long-running television program following a man's fictional life. The whole thing was set up in an elaborate TV studio, but Truman believed it was his real life. People all over the world had watched the show from Truman's infancy.  When Truman finally learned the truth and made his escape from the studio, the final scene put everything into perspective.  Two security guards were eating pizza and watching television:

First Guard: "You want another slice?"
Second Guard: "No, I'm OK."
First Guard: "What else is on?"
Second Guard: "Yeah, let's see what else is on."
First Guard: "Where's the TV guide?"

It's all up to you. Don't give these personalities more power than they deserve.  To you, they are like members of your family; they are in your homes every day.  But to them ~~ well, they have never even heard of you.  They're business people, and the only thing they really want from you is your business.

"Let's see what else is on..."

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Into The Jaws Of The Unknown...

Today I'm venturing into one of those dreaded places that many of us fear to go, but which most of us have found to be a necessary evil in the 21st Century. These places are legendary, and I have heard of people -- actual real, live people -- who have disappeared into these vast abysses, never to be seen again. Those fortunate enough to escape are often found wandering vacant-eyed, uttering the phrase, "Cash or credit...? Cash or credit...?" until someone gives the victim a cup of tea -- or something stronger -- and they snap out of it.

Yes, say a little prayer for me, folks; I'm off to the shopping mall.  I need stuff.  I love getting new stuff, I just don't enjoy the process.

Vancouver has wonderful shopping neighbourhoods, with boutique stores, coffee shops, restaurants, book stores, fruit and produce markets, and other little specialty stores.  However, most of the things I need are never sold in these little neighbourhood stores.  So, I have to brace myself, gird my loins, and fight the crowds, hop on the Skytrain to one of the larger shopping centres to find the things I want to purchase.

If you venture out today and you see a wild-eyed woman wearing steel-toed shoes, elbow pads and a helmet, just ignore her.  She'll be fine, once she's back in the safety of her own home -- sipping a tall, cool gin and tonic cup of tea.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Lantz Hare

A few days ago no one had heard of this young man, and now after the devastation in Joplin, Missouri on Sunday, most of us are familiar with his story. He is the boy who was missing for four days, after being pulled from his car by 200 mph winds during the monster tornado. In the days following, his family searched for him with no success. In the wrenching hours and days since the tornado, the boy's father, Mike Hare, said he'd searched hospitals and continually called his son's cell phone, getting no answer. "It rang for the first day and a half, and now it goes straight to voice mail. But just in case he gets it, I want him to know his dad loves him," the father said earlier this week. ~~ CNN

This is a heartbreaking story, and puts a name and a face to the devastation of the tornado.  When I saw the story on CNN, I couldn't help thinking how much this 16 year-old young man resembles our Phinnaeus -- except for the Justin Bieber hair -- they are very similar.  The features and the winning smile are the same, and they are just like millions of other teenage boys out there who are venturing towards their lives, trying to figure things out, being goofy one minute and serious the next, perhaps testing boundaries, while at the same time needing to feel safe.

The story doesn't have a happy ending; Lantz Hare's body was found today.  His parents are beyond devastated.

We never know, do we?  One minute we're hollering at them to do the dishes or mow the lawn, or for goodness sake make their bed and finish their homework.  The next moment we're laughing at some completely ridiculous joke they've told, or that perfect imitation they did of their math teacher.  It's all part of the day-to-day stuff we take for granted.  Until it's gone.

The loss of this young man will create a huge, unfillable hole in his family member's lives.  Forever.  There will be a hundred small things about him that they will miss -- things they perhaps never really even noticed until he was gone.  His winsome face will smile out from the Internet, and he will be the face of what can happen when things are perfectly normal one moment, and are irrevocably changed the next moment.  Forever.

Now, wherever you are, get up from your computers and go and hug your kids.  They'll probably wonder what the heck you're doing, but do it anyway.  If they ask why, tell them, "Because Jo said so..."

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

The Singer Or The Song...?

I always feel rather sad when I log onto my blog and see that I have lost a follower. Usually it is after I have posted a controversial post, such as the one I posted yesterday.  It is my belief that folks can discuss issues -- politics, religion, current events, and more, without getting personal.  It's not about the individual, it's about the issue.  I sometimes read the blogs on CNN, and I am gobsmacked at the names people call each other, simply because they happen to disagree with each other regarding any particular subject.

On my boring-little-blog, I like to mix things up occasionally and discuss current issues that interest me.  I do try, however, to be as courteous and inoffensive as possible, while stating my views.  If folks disagree with me, I welcome it.  What a boring world this would be if we all agreed with each other.  I have often thought that, if I lived in another age, I would own a great salon -- no, not a hair salon, but a place where folks could attend soirées, and we would discuss all sorts of wonderful topics -- literature, art, science, religion, politics... more...  These are the things that make the world go around, don't you think?

I always welcome your comments, and I often read them more than once.  I try to respond, and I always visit and read your blogs, but unfortunately our computers at work are blocked from commenting on blogs, so my time is sometimes limited.  But, one thing I have found is that there are some very interesting, talented, intelligent people out there.  Yes, you...!

Have a wonderful Wednesday, everyone.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Mr. Camping, Get Your Priorities Straight...!

Now that May 21, 2011 has come and gone, and the earth and its inhabitants have retained their status quo, I think Harold Camping should be arrested and prosecuted for the terror he unleashed on all the folks throughout the world who believed his asinine, wicked doomsday prophecy.  There were hundreds of billboards, signs, newspaper ads and pamphlets warning of the end of the world on May 21st, and people were frightened -- none more so than children.  What Mr. Camping did was a form of terrorism, and he profited by it.  He is a multi-millionaire, and is president of Family Radio, a California-based radio station that spans more than 150 markets in the United States.

When I was a little girl, my family lived next door to members of a particular religious cult who were always telling me the world was going to come to an end next week, or next month. I spent a good deal of my time in absolute panic and dread. In fact, those folks and their doomsday predictions prompted a form of panic attack in me at the age of seven, that has never really gone away. I remember one beautiful summer afternoon hiding under my bed trembling in fear because the neighbours had told me the rapture was coming that very day and I was going to hell. I wonder how many children have spent the last few months in fear of May 21st? How many people, in fact, have been living in dread? There were reports of folks giving away their homes and all their belongings, including their stocks and investments.

There is a vast difference between religion and spirituality, and one does not necessarily relate to the other. Religion has been hijacked by lunatics like Harold Camping, and they have given religion a bad name. Fundamentalists of any kind tend to have narrow thinking, whether Muslims, Jews or Christians. Fundamentalism and the strict adherence to specific theological doctrines leaves no room for humanity. And let's face it, we are all human.

As far as I'm concerned, there is a special place reserved in the Ninth Circle of Hell for people like Harold Camping. The terror that he has wrought on people in the last few months is inexcusable. Apparently he has gone into hiding. Well, good -- I hope he stays there. Anyway, how stupid can the man be? Wouldn't he have known there was no way the rapture could possibly happen just the day before The Donald was about to pick the final Celebrity Apprentice? I mean, for goodness sake, there are priorities.

Friday, May 20, 2011

What In The Sam Peckinpah...?

I have been a movie fan ever since I was a little girl and my parents gave me my weekly allowance and sent me off to the matinees on rainy Saturday afternoons. My friends and I would would load up on popcorn and Coca~Cola, sit in the back row and settle in to watch the latest Audrey Hepburn flick. I once dyed my hair black because I wanted to look like Audrey Hepburn. I looked more like Moe in The Three Stooges.

But, I digress...

In my opinion, the movies being produced lately have been particularly disappointing.  Maybe I am slowly descending into that generation of folks who remembers when movies used to actually be good ~~ anything by Alfred Hitchcock, for instance -- "Psycho", "Dial M for Murder" or "Vertigo" -- or movies that relied on good acting, rather than explicit scenes, or full frontal nudity.  Or actual dialogue rather than the "F" word in every sentence.  Or, perhaps, an actual plot.  I dunno, call me crazy... an actual story would be nice.

Recently I finally watched "The Kids Are All Right".  I wanted to like it because it was highly recommended by so many of my friends, and it received a 94% good rating on Rotten Tomatoes, with the critique, "Worthwhile as both a well-acted ensemble piece and as a smart, warm statement on family values, The Kids Are All Right is remarkable." Really? The only good thing about that movie was the performance by the fabulous, anemic-looking Mia Wasikowska who also played Alice in "Alice in Wonderland" with Johnny Depp, and Jane in "Jane Eyre", which probably no one has seen, and which is a great movie. "The Kids Are All Right" was billed as a comedy, but it was bleak and gut-wrenching, one of the worst pieces of cr*p movies I have ever seen, along with "The Hurt Locker", Precious", "Avatar", "The Fighter", "Slumdog Millionaire", "Black Swan", "The Blind Side", "The Social Network", and any number of other movies that have been nominated for Academy Awards in the past few years. What on earth is going on?  What are they putting in the popcorn?

There have been a few good movies in the past four or five years, "Doubt", "The Changeling", "Gran Torino", "The Wrestler", "Wall-E", "Up", "Revolutionary Road", "Rabbit Hole", "The Visitor" (my personal favourite), Woody Allen's "You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger", but for the most part it has been pretty slim pickings.

Movies used to be a fairly inexpensive form of entertainment, but now it costs a fortune for two people to go to a movie.   And folks could enjoy a movie without squirming through scenes that left us feeling awkward. Of late there seems to be a spate of movies with scenes of explicit lesbian love-making (not that there's anything wrong with that...) and it feels artifical and exploitative. Do we really have to push the envelope to be entertained?  When I watched "Black Swan", all I could think was what a wonderful movie that might have been under the direction of someone like Alfred Hitchcock or Sidney Pollock, or even the lyrical Clint Eastwood. They would have made it into a classic. It had all the raw potential, but fell far short of the mark. When a movie relies too much on shock value, that's all folks remember. The nuances of the plot and the actors' performances are forgotten.

C'mon, Hollywood, if you're going to take our money, please give us a product worth paying for.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

You Live Where...?

As of today, May 17, 2011, Vancouver has become the most expensive city in the world in which to own real estate, ahead of London and New York. Although I knew Vancouver was an expensive city, I had no idea it had become that expensive.  Mostly the price of owning a home has been driven up by off-shore purchasers, leaving us poor Vancouverites on the outside looking in.  There is one neighbourhood in particular that I love to stroll through and admire the wonderful old Edwardian homes. The neighbourhood is called Shaughnessy, and it is the center of Vancouver’s old money. The homes were built by people who made their fortune in British Columbia’s timber, sugar, mining, and other industries. A few years ago Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell lived in one of these homes while their son was playing hockey here in Vancouver. Here are some of the other gorgeous homes. *sigh*

And yes, people actually live in these homes; can you even imagine? If you’re ever in Vancouver, be sure to take a tour of this wonderful neighbourhood. And then be sure to look for me, I’m the one living in the shopping cart under the Granville Bridge.

Kidding ... kidding ...

Sunday, May 15, 2011

You Ain't Seen Nothin' Yet...

Cruise ship season has begun here in Vancouver, and yesterday there were several cruise ships in port with 20,000 tourists disembarking to visit Vancouver. I happened to be downtown while they were here, and I overheard several folks remarking on what a gorgeous city Vancouver is. I felt like saying to them, "You ain't seen nothing' yet. Wait until you get away from the downtown area..." So, for those of you who are planning a trip to Vancouver, or just a stopover during a cruise, I thought I would show you some of the must-see places you should visit while you're here. My favourite spot in the Lower Mainland is the lighthouse at Point Atkinson, which was named by Captain Vancouver in 1792, apparently for a "particular" friend of his. I wonder who she was.

The park is exquisite but even more beautiful is the view from the lighthouse.  I never get tired of it.  The park surrounding the lighthouse is 185 acres of old growth rainforest with ancient trees 200 feet tall and 500 years old. In 1994 Point Atkinson Lighthouse was designated a National Historic Site. A few years later the light keepers were phased out and it is now automated. As well, Point Atkinson is part of the territory being negotiated in treaties between First Nations and local, provincial and federal governments to settle longstanding disagreements about land, resource, social, and citizenship rights. ~~ West Vancouver Museum and Archives

The drive from downtown Vancouver to Point Atkinson is about half an hour, along gorgeous Marine Drive, a winding road that has been compared to the famous drive between Monaco and Cannes.  Some of the most expensive homes in Canada are along Marine Drive, selling for between $10,000,000 and $20,000,000.  That's a little beyond my price range, but the view is free.  However, If you don't get the opportunity to drive out to Point Atkinson during your visit here, your cruise ship goes right past it as you leave Vancouver and sail off into the sunset.

Friday, May 13, 2011

Welcome Back...!

I'm more than a little peeved with Blogger. I had 18 lovely comments on my post yesterday, and when Blogger restored my blog, 16 of them had been removed before I had a chance to read them. I have been toying with the idea of moving to Wordpress, and I set up an account there -- just in case this happens again. But at least the blogs are restored, so I suppose we must look at the bright side. If by any chance you link to my blog and get re-directed to Wordpress, well, I am still here on Blogger for the foreseeable future. But ...

In the meantime, have a wonderful Friday the 13th, folks. Don't walk under any ladders.



Wednesday, May 11, 2011


Lately I have been feeling overwhelmed. Do you ever feel that way? It seems that all the news, both in private life and the outside world seems to be negative, it's raining all the time, and just generally one feels as if all the joy has taken a rather lengthy vacation.  Well, that's how I have been feeling lately.  I need some sunshine -- desperately.  My  friend Russell took this wonderful photo of a gorgeous little cardinal, so I have decided to do a painting of it.  We don't have cardinals here in Vancouver, and it is the most gorgeous bird I have ever seen.

For me, painting is like meditation; it nourishes my soul, and that's just what I need right now.  I went to De Serres Art Supplies and bought the perfect shade of red, called madder red deep -- isn't that a fabulous name for a paint colour?  I can hardly wait to use it.  I'll show you my painting when I'm finished.  Watch this space.

Have a great day, everyone!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

I Wish Them Godspeed...

I was really saddened to hear about the separation of Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver after 25 years of marriage. And not long ago Bruce Boxleitner and Melissa Gilbert separated at 16 years of marriage. I have never personally experienced a divorce, but I can imagine it must be just about the most painful thing anyone has to endure. A death has a certain closure to it after a period of time and a grieving process, but a divorce is a type of death too, that just never stops. It becomes prolonged and drawn out, with no closure in sight.

Someone once said that it takes a few minutes to get married, and 20 years to become divorced. There is a certain truth to that, especially where there are children involved. Most children love both their parents equally. They don't see their parents through the eyes of the marriage, but through the eyes of a child. So it upsets me when I see children being torn apart by the fracture of their parents' relationship. However, I think it is inevitable in almost every divorce; the children are the ones who lose the most, in ways the parents cannot even imagine.

There rarely is any such thing as an amicable divorce. That's the true definition of an oxymoron -- amicable divorce. People like the Schwarzeneggers and the Boxleitners put on a brave face for the public, but we are all aware of what is really going on behind the scenes. It's heartbreaking, to say the least. The pain must be unimaginable. I feel really sad for anyone who is going through that awful process, and I wish them Godspeed.

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Happy Mother's Day...!

Happy Mother's Day to all the Moms out there, or to anyone who has, or has had, a Mom. I have dozens of photographs of my mother, but this is my favourite because she was caught off guard having her picture taken by Foncie, the famous street photographer in Vancouver. This picture is now in the Foncie's Photos exhibit at the Vancouver Museum. I think my mother would get a chuckle out of that.  She has that expression that my brothers and I came to recognize so well.  "What, may I ask, are you doing...?" in her South African accent.  Well, usually we were up to no good, but she seemed to like us anyway ... most of the time, that is.

Being a mother is not easy, and you definitely need a sense of humour.  I remember when I was about three or four years old, I happened upon some of the little neighbourhood boys having a -- shall we say -- contest, to see who could pee the farthest.  Being the good sport I was, I wanted to join in, but I didn't have the right apparatus, and I was really puzzled.  Why didn't I have one of those?  I felt I had been gypped, and I was very curious about them.  When my mother discovered us, she sent all the little boys home and took me into the house, sat me on the chesterfield and said, "Wait until your father gets home!"  I sat there for two hours, filled with fear and dread.  Finally I heard my father's footsteps on the back stairs, and some mumbled whispering in the kitchen, and then my father roared with laughter.  I had never heard my father laugh so hard.  My mother broke down and started laughing too, and for ten minutes the two of them roared hysterically while I sat trembling on the chesterfield.  Finally, I got up and went back outside to play and the whole incident was never mentioned again.  The only lesson I really learned is that if you're a parent you have to laugh because childhood is innocence and insanity, and you can't take it too seriously.

I think Mother's Day is for children, not for mothers.  It's the one day of the year when the kids can fumble around in an attempt to make breakfast, or buy a completely unusable gift, or make a funny little card, or do something sweet that they would not otherwise do the other 364 days of the year.  And it's the one day of the year when mothers should never say, "What, may I ask, are you doing...?"

Happy Mother's Day...!

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Happy Dance...

Sometimes it's the smallest things in life that can make us happy, isn't it? Well, this is me today, as of 12:01 p.m.  Without going into great detail, nothing major is happening, just a small little thing that will have me doing the dance of joy.  I hope you have something joyful happen to you today too.  If you do, be sure to do a little dance.  I'm going to...!

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Of Shoes and Ships and Sealing Wax... Front Row Seats

"The time has come," the Walrus said,
"To talk of many things:
Of shoes—and ships—and sealing-wax—
And cabbages—and kings—
And why the sea is boiling hot—
And whether pigs have wings."

~~ Lewis Carroll, Through the Looking Glass

There have been so many interesting things going on in the world lately, I hardly know where to begin. Ever since I was a child, I have always been interested in current affairs -- political, social, cultural -- whatever. We are fortunate to have front row seats to the interesting events of the day.  I have learned that the things that interest me are not always necessarily the things that interest other people, but isn't it fun to be able to discuss them as they are unfolding?  A future king takes a bride, and we are witness to the best man, the groom's brother, as he quietly whispers something personal to the groom, and the groom's shoulders shake as he chuckles.  We are witnessing a charming, spontaneous moment, and two billion people are asking, "What did Harry just say to William?"

Just a few days ago we all had front row seats as the world's most odious terrorist died a coward's death in a filthy, squalid house, hiding behind his wife.  In life he terrorized the world, responsible for the deaths of tens, perhaps hundreds of thousands of Muslims and non-Muslims alike.  No sooner did the whole world breathe a sigh of relief, when a bogus quote, falsely attributed to Dr. Martin Luther King, went viral and everyone felt guilty for feeling relieved.  Well, folks, it's okay to feel relieved that a monstrous terrorist has been eliminated.  No one wants to dance on someone's grave, but to feel relief that he can no longer do anyone any harm, well, that's okay.  Even Dr. Drew said it's okay, and if Dr. Drew says it's okay, that's good enough for me.

In Canada we had front row seats to an historic federal election.  The polls closed at 7:00, and by 7:01 Stephen Harper, the man everyone loves to hate, had been re-elected with a majority government; two opposing parties, Liberals and Bloc Québécois  had been eviscerated, and the socialist NDP party had become Her Majesty's Loyal Opposition. You could hear a collective gasp across Canada as everyone said, "What just happened?" All of this was live and in living colour...

There are so many things we are fortunate enough to witness as they are happening.  It makes us all part of our global community, and we can discuss them and debate them with each other from across the world.  I think it's wonderful.  You may not always agree with my opinions, and vice versa, but we can enjoy the conversations, and sometimes we learn something from each other's point of view. 

Now, a note to the Vancouver Canucks:  I want front row seats when you bring the Stanley Cup back to Canada this year.  That would be witnessing history.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Congratulations to the Americans...

They caught the son-of-a-b*tch and he was respectfully buried at sea, according to Islamic law.  Do you think he is cavorting with 63 virgins now? No, he's fish food.  How appropriate, considering there's something fishy about the fact that the Pakistanis have been harbouring this man for so many years -- hiding him in plain sight.

There were eight children killed on the hijacked planes on 9/11, five children on American 77 ranging in age from 3 to 11, and three children on United 175 ages 2, 3, and 4. Babies...!  When I heard that, I was disgusted. Any man who would allow children to be killed in the name of terrorism is a coward, and in my opinion all bets are off as to what happens to him.  We can say a prayer for his soul, and then pray for healing.

Congratulations to the Americans for their tenacity.  Let's hope this is the beginning of the end, and not the end of the beginning...