Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Back to the Future...

Where were you on Friday, April 12, 2013?  That's the day Marty McFly came back to the future  -- all the way from the 1980s.  That, for me, was an interesting decade.

Shoulder pads, big hair, Calvin Klein perfume, Dynasty, Joan Collins.

Joan Jett.

Spandau Ballet...

Would Mary McFly recognize the world if he were to arrive here today?  We are able to sit  in comfort of our living rooms communicating with the world on these little screens with keyboards attached.  Got something to say?  Well, just say it, whether anyone is listening or not.  We can watch TV on our miniature smart phones while we're eating lunch in the food court.  See news happening?  Take a picture, tap the screen and e-mail the picture to every news agency in the world, et voila! the whole world can see it in nanoseconds.  Not just Big Brother is watching -- everyone is watching.  Everything.  All the time.  There is almost no such thing as the media anymore.  We are the media.  It may seem strange, but I like it.  I don't see it as an invasion of privacy, but rather as transparency.  Would the Boston Marathon bombing suspects have been apprehended without the social media?  Maybe not.  And the RCMP officers who tasered Robert Dziekanski to death at Vancouver Airport would never have been caught, had it not been for a bystander with a cell phone camera.


This is a world Mary McFly would never have been able to imagine, back there in the deepest, darkest 1980s. In his 1986 State of the Union speech, President Reagan referred to the movie when he said, "Never has there been a more exciting time to be alive, a time of rousing wonder and heroic achievement. As they said in the film Back to the Future, 'Where we're going, we don't need roads' ". Well, we still need roads, we just don't have DeLoreans anymore.

Time travel has always fascinated me.  As yet, we cannot go forward in time, but we can go backwards.  If I could, I would go back to the 1980s and bring back a younger version of me.

And the Spandau Ballet.

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

What the Hell is a False Flag...?

The Boston Marathon yesterday was dedicated to the 26 victims at Sandy Hook in Newton -- 26.2 miles -- one mile for each victim.  A small group of the parents from Newtown ran in the marathon; they were called 'Newtown Strong'.  "In the first 20 miles we're honouring the 20 Sandy Hook first graders," Laura Nowacki, a spokeswoman for Newtown Strong, explained to WBUR Boston. "When we crest Heartbreak Hill, and we're coming back towards Boston, we run the final six for our six fallen educators, including their lives, to protect our children." Survivors and families of the Newtown tragedy were invited to watch the race from a VIP area near the finish line.  We all know what happened at that point.  In a horrible twist of irony, an eight-year-old boy was one of the people killed.

Before the smoke had even cleared, Alex Jones, an execrable, sorry specimen of a human being, had declared the incident a "false flag".  In the past, he has also declared the World Trade Center collapse and the Colorado and Newtown massacres "false flags" as well.  Children died in all of these tragedies.

What the hell is a false flag?

Who the hell is Alex Jones?

(Pardonnez mon fran├žais)

Why is this piece of human garbage man even allowed to perpetuate these rumours?  I can't think of a worse way to pay disrespect to the dead and their loved ones.

Alex Jones should thank his lucky stars that he lives in a country where he is able to spew his verbal diarrhea speak in freedom.  In many other countries, he would have been made to disappear -- a long time ago.

Oh, if only...

“Conspiracy theory is the ultimate refuge of the powerless. If you cannot change your own life, it must be that some greater force controls the world.” ~~ Roger Cohen

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Jo's Ridiculist...

When I was in high school, I wanted to be a teacher.  I joined the Future Teacher's Club, and went out to some of the elementary schools and did "practice" teaching.  It was fun and I enjoyed it.  I thought teaching was one of the most noble professions a person could undertake.  I still do.  Some of my favourite teachers -- Mr. Chalmers, Mrs. Littleton, Mr. Atkinson -- made a deep impact on me, and opened doors for me that might otherwise have stayed closed.  Other teachers -- Mrs. Hutchison, Ms. Somerville -- made me realize that not all teachers love teaching.  For the most part, however, I still have a great respect for teachers.  They influence our lives in ways we cannot understand until we are older.  I often think of my teachers, and of something they said during the course of a lesson.

"Little girls! I am in the business of putting old heads on young shoulders, and all my pupils are the creme de la creme. Give me a girl at an impressionable age and she is mine for life."  ~~ Maggie Smith, "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie"

So, I was very disappointed to read the following article in our local newspaper three days ago:

"The cost of Vancouver teachers’ unlimited massage benefit soared to $1.62 million last year, contributing to the district's latest multimillion-dollar budget crisis. The Vancouver School Board confirmed teachers’ 2012 claims represented a 50 per cent increase over 2008, when they filed for $1.08 million worth of massages. Over the same period, the number of teachers actually decreased from 3,728 to 3,605.

Board spokesman Kurt Heinrich told CTV News that while the pricey job perk is paid for by the VSB, it was negotiated at the provincial level. “Any changes to it would have to be bargained by the BC Public School Employers Association,” Heinrich said in an email. “Unfortunately, the VSB has no control over this.” The board confirmed all claims are subject to the Pacific Blue Cross’ reasonable and customary limits, though the organization can only request a doctor’s note for massage claims after 24 visits in a calendar year. The claims must also be for registered massage treatments.

Gerry Kent of the Vancouver Elementary School Teachers Association defended the unlimited massage benefit, describing the work of an educator as “very stressful and challenging.” “I’m not privy to why they’re taking the therapy but I believe teachers who are taking these therapies are doing it to maintain their ability to go to work,” Kent said."

Massage therapy?  Really?  What happened to bringing the teacher an apple?


Not Another Trudeau...!

We don't need another Trudeau as Prime Minister of Canada, and we certainly don't need a dynasty. No one would have heard of this man if his last name had not been Trudeau. He should pay his dues first, and gain some experience instead of becoming a puppet for the backroom boys. He is an ex-school teacher and a political lightweight with a penchant for gaffes, and a wafer-thin record on policy matters. He has a sense of entitlement because of his name.

Canada deserves better. Please, no more Trudeaus. The first one was bad enough.

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Tweeters, Twitters and Twits ... Oh, My

Well, apparently even God has a Twitter account.  I opened one a couple of years ago, and I have tweeted, twitted? twice.  To be honest, I find it difficult to keep up with the social media overload -- blogging, e-mail, Facebook, Reddit, Twitter, Pinterest, Skype, Tumblr, Instagram, texting -- who has time for a real life anymore?  I'm not sure how to use my Twitter account.  If I want to tweet to someone else, do I go to their page, or do I tweet (twitter?) from my page?  And do I use a #hashtag or an @sign?  If I want to twitter to someone, do I have to follow them first, or do they have to follow me?  What if what I have to say is more than 140 characters?  Can I tweet twice?

I'm so confused.

Do any of us really have anything interesting to say?  Well, perhaps that is why the number of characters is limited.  Keep it short, sweetheart.  What you're saying is actually a giant yawn. Of the top 100 people who are followed on Twitter, Justin Beiber is number one, followed by Lady Gaga and Katy Perry.  Kim Kardashian is number 15 and Selena Gomez is number 22.  Justin Bieber?  Selena Gomez?

Kim Kardashian!?

What on earth do these people have to say?

One of Katy Perry's tweets was, "Back to werk."  Justin Bieber wrote, "How R U?"

Oh, good lord.

Last night I watched the finale of the execrable "Real Housewives of Vancouver."  I wanted to see what the social media was saying about the shriek-fest psychotic melt-down of Jody Claman at the party at Van Dusen Gardens.  Twitter, Facebook, and all the other social media sites absolutely lit up with tweets, twitters, Facebook entries and various and other sundry comments around the internet, regarding Jody's abusive behaviour towards Mary.  I understand that the police are now involved.  The news was instant, and I was almost able to read it, despite the abbreviations, shortforms, @signs and #hashtags.  At no other point in time have we been able to learn the latest news, the moment it happens.  And we can all participate. Got news?  Just tweet, text, blog, and post it on Facebook, all from the convenience of your smart phone.

I'm such a Luddite.  I suppose at this point I will just content myself with reading tweets, twitters and other little golden gems of wisdom and communication, until I figure out how to actually use it.

Good day 2 U. Hve a fab week and B well.

Friday, April 5, 2013

"Wave" by Sonali Deraniyagala

Sonali Deraniyagala's universe changed the moment the sea came and took away her entire family -- her parents, her husband and her children -- on December 26, 2004, just as they were preparing to leave their resort hotel in Yala on the south coast of Sri Lanka. In her book "Wave" she writes, “No moment of separation, not one that I was aware of anyway. It was not like I tried to cling to my children as they were torn from my arms, it was not like they were yanked from me, not like I saw them dead. They simply vanished from my life forever.”

Ms. Deraniyagala’s writing is stark, almost poetic, with brief, concise sentences, almost as if to write one more word would be to open the floodgates  (no pun intended) of unimaginable horror. For eight years, she struggles to forget and then forces herself to remember, lest she lose them again. With grace and dignity, Ms. Deraniyagala lets us into the darkest  areas of her heart as she goes on her journey of grief, and eventually finds a semblance of a new life and a degree of peace.

Often we are witness to horrendous events such as the 2004 tsunami, the 2001 World Trade Center collapse, the Newtown massacre, and we say, “How terrible, how ghastly…” Ms. Deraniyagala takes us inside the event. We watch the wave coming in, we smell the ocean; we feel the emptiness as she returns to her house in London and finds all her family's belongings just where they were when she left, her sons' soccer outfits with the grass stains still on them.

Years after the tsunami struck, Deraniyagala returned to what was left of the demolished hotel in Sri Lanka. "I lay on the warm floor of our hotel room as a slow moon scaled above the sea…. At the edge of this floor, there was a small bolt-hole, filled with sand. When I saw the wave coming toward us, I asked Vik to shut that back door.  It was into this bolt-hole that he pulled down the lock. Now I traced the rim with my fingers. I cleaned out the sand."  This book is not for the faint of heart. It is gut-wrenchingly honest, but you won't want to put it down. Over 230,000 people perished in the 2004 tsunami. This book brings home the fact that each and every one of them had lives and stories, and grass-stained soccer outfits left behind.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Marigold at 14...!

On April 4th, Marigold will be 14 years old.  I still think of her as the little girl in this photograph, but she has grown into a tall, slim extremely beautiful young woman, with fine features and a gorgeous turned-up nose.  When did that happen?  I must have blinked.  Marigold is the enigma of the family.  She has long, dark, straight hair and a quiet personality.   Even Marigold has noticed how she seems to be the odd person out, in a family of rather boisterous, loud, curly-haired people.  Where did her genetic material come from? The older she gets, the less I know about her, and I would like to know more.  Who is this mysterious young lady who is growing up before our eyes?  Marigold loves to sing, and she's a good singer.  I wonder what other mysteries are hiding under that quiet exterior.  I think there is actually a little one-woman party going on in there.  She often sees things from a slightly quirky perspective, and sometimes I will look over at Marigold, and she is giggling at something that the rest of us have missed.  It's a hoot.  She is quite delightful.

Marigold is the one person in the family who does indeed walk to the beat of her own drummer, and I think she will go on to do great things in her life. She is quietly stubborn, which will prove to be a positive attribute when she enters the real world. No one will ever be able to sway her. At the moment, of course, that quality often gets her into trouble with her parental units. I keep telling her that while she is still at home, it's very important to pay attention to her parents. Digging her heels in when her parents tell her to do the dishes or clean up her room is counter-productive.  Typical 14-year-old behaviour.  I know, because I was one once too, back when the dinosaurs roamed the earth.  It's good to know that some things never change.

Marigold is a lovely young lady, and she is well-loved by everyone in the family.  I hope she enjoys her teenage years. I know her brother looks out for her too, and they are good friends -- most of the time, anyway.

Happy Birthday, Marigold...!