Saturday, April 16, 2011

Photo Hunt: Road

I am going to try uploading this week's posting here since Wordpress won't let me upload the images I want, for some silly reason. (I also tried importing my Wordpress blog here but while the posts appear in my dashboard, they don't seem to be appearing here...)

This week's Photo Hunt theme is Road.

Since I spend a LOT of time on the road, I tend to have a LOT of photos of roads or taken on or from favourite roads.

Since Mom can't drive any more and spends a lot of time sitting watching TV while am working upstairs, we go out as often as we can for drives in the country. We try to stick to that back roads as much as we can. And by "back roads" I mean BACK roads.... the old dirt roads and tracks. If the car can fit down the road, we'll take it. Although, because of Mom's health, I am a little more selective about some of the tracks I once used to attempt. We now avoid the ones where I don't know if we are going to be faced with a six-foot-deep hole in the road resulting in an 85-point turn on a track that is barely wider than the car, and deep, water-filled ditches on either side...

I have taken thousands of photos up and down most of these roads, of abandoned houses and farms and cemeteries; of swamps, cows, and electrical pylons (not necessarily at the same time); of gatepost lions and guard dogs (often at the same time); of duck binds and tree-houses.... Some are old favourites taken in all seasons. Others are spotted once on a road I haven't been able to locate again. And some have been photographed many times but have now disappeared...

And, of course... I like to fiddle with some of the resulting images. Here are a few of those.

Tuesday, December 01, 2009

Forgot to mention

I am now using WordPress (which I think is "okay" but limited but is never "broken").

You can find me here.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

three minutes...

In the mid 1970s, it was found that, because of synthetic materials and other combustibles in homes, it took just over 4 minutes for life to be insupportable in the average house fire...

That was 4 minutes from the time the fire was detected until you had not chance of surviving.

How many of us assume that working smoke detectors give us "more time" and that our houses are "safer" than they were in the 1970s?

In fact, our houses are less safe when it comes to fire. Our homes are filled with plastic children's toys, fabrics, cushion stuffing, clothing, upholstery, carpeting, electronics and a myriad of other materials and products which, in a fire, increase combustibility and release of toxic smoke and gases during a fire.

Experts now have determined that, in the average house fire, from the moment that a fire is detected until life becomes unsupportable, you have 3 minutes to get out of your house.

3 minutes before you die.

This means that, rather than trying to locate valuables... rather than trying to put out the fire yourself... you should be getting yourself and your loved ones out of the house.

Some facts:
  • In only 3 1/2 minutes, the heat from a house fire can reach over 1100 degrees Fahrenheit.
  • In rooms that are not even on fire the temperature can reach over 300 degrees; this is hot enough to melt plastic and kill the people in those rooms.
An excellent PDF on fire escape planning

While this video involves a Christmas tree, I think it amply proves how quickly a fire can become fully involved.

Take a note of the time from the start of the video and the time at the end of the film...

If you think this is unusual behaviour for people knowing that there is a fire, I can tell you it is not.

When I worked in the book store, we had two occasions when we had small fires in the ceiling lights and tried to evacuate the store while the fire department arrived. On both occasions, the customers insisted on being allowed to shop until the firemen arrived, even congregating directly under the lights which were dropping molten metal and sparks below.... in a book store crammed to the rafters with paper.

We quite literally had to threaten them with police charges is they did not leave the store.

What to do when a pan of grease catches fire

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Keith Olbermann on Proposition 8

Thank you, Keith, for probably the best and most impassioned speech in support of the right for same-sex couples to marry.

It is offensive that on the eve of the final emancipation of African Americans, America chooses to embark on yet another campaign to not just deny but to destroy the civil rights of another segment of its population.


Finally tonight as promised, a Special Comment on the passage, last week, of Proposition Eight in California, which rescinded the right of same-sex couples to marry, and tilted the balance on this issue, from coast to coast.

Some parameters, as preface. This isn't about yelling, and this isn't about politics, and this isn't really just about Prop-8. And I don't have a personal investment in this: I'm not gay, I had to strain to think of one member of even my very extended family who is, I have no personal stories of close friends or colleagues fighting the prejudice that still pervades their lives.

And yet to me this vote is horrible. Horrible. Because this isn't about yelling, and this isn't about politics. This is about the human heart, and if that sounds corny, so be it.

If you voted for this Proposition or support those who did or the sentiment they expressed, I have some questions, because, truly, I do not understand. Why does this matter to you? What is it to you? In a time of impermanence and fly-by-night relationships, these people over here want the same chance at permanence and happiness that is your option. They don't want to deny you yours. They don't want to take anything away from you. They want what you want—a chance to be a little less alone in the world.

Only now you are saying to them—no. You can't have it on these terms. Maybe something similar. If they behave. If they don't cause too much trouble. You'll even give them all the same legal rights—even as you're taking away the legal right, which they already had. A world around them, still anchored in love and marriage, and you are saying, no, you can't marry. What if somebody passed a law that said you couldn't marry?

I keep hearing this term "re-defining" marriage. If this country hadn't re-defined marriage, black people still couldn't marry white people. Sixteen states had laws on the books which made that illegal in 1967. 1967.

The parents of the President-Elect of the United States couldn't have married in nearly one third of the states of the country their son grew up to lead. But it's worse than that. If this country had not "re-defined" marriage, some black people still couldn't marry black people. It is one of the most overlooked and cruelest parts of our sad story of slavery. Marriages were not legally recognized, if the people were slaves. Since slaves were property, they could not legally be husband and wife, or mother and child. Their marriage vows were different: not "Until Death, Do You Part," but "Until Death or Distance, Do You Part." Marriages among slaves were not legally recognized.

You know, just like marriages today in California are not legally recognized, if the people are gay.

And uncountable in our history are the number of men and women, forced by society into marrying the opposite sex, in sham marriages, or marriages of convenience, or just marriages of not knowing, centuries of men and women who have lived their lives in shame and unhappiness, and who have, through a lie to themselves or others, broken countless other lives, of spouses and children, all because we said a man couldn't marry another man, or a woman couldn't marry another woman. The sanctity of marriage.

How many marriages like that have there been and how on earth do they increase the "sanctity" of marriage rather than render the term, meaningless?

What is this, to you? Nobody is asking you to embrace their expression of love. But don't you, as human beings, have to embrace... that love? The world is barren enough.

It is stacked against love, and against hope, and against those very few and precious emotions that enable us to go forward. Your marriage only stands a 50-50 chance of lasting, no matter how much you feel and how hard you work.

And here are people overjoyed at the prospect of just that chance, and that work, just for the hope of having that feeling. With so much hate in the world, with so much meaningless division, and people pitted against people for no good reason, this is what your religion tells you to do? With your experience of life and this world and all its sadnesses, this is what your conscience tells you to do?

With your knowledge that life, with endless vigor, seems to tilt the playing field on which we all live, in favor of unhappiness and hate... this is what your heart tells you to do? You want to sanctify marriage? You want to honor your God and the universal love you believe he represents? Then Spread happiness—this tiny, symbolic, semantical grain of happiness—share it with all those who seek it. Quote me anything from your religious leader or book of choice telling you to stand against this. And then tell me how you can believe both that statement and another statement, another one which reads only "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

You are asked now, by your country, and perhaps by your creator, to stand on one side or another. You are asked now to stand, not on a question of politics, not on a question of religion, not on a question of gay or straight. You are asked now to stand, on a question of love. All you need do is stand, and let the tiny ember of love meet its own fate.

You don't have to help it, you don't have it applaud it, you don't have to fight for it. Just don't put it out. Just don't extinguish it. Because while it may at first look like that love is between two people you don't know and you don't understand and maybe you don't even want to know. It is, in fact, the ember of your love, for your fellow person just because this is the only world we have. And the other guy counts, too.

This is the second time in ten days I find myself concluding by turning to, of all things, the closing plea for mercy by Clarence Darrow in a murder trial.

But what he said, fits what is really at the heart of this:

"I was reading last night of the aspiration of the old Persian poet, Omar-Khayyam," he told the judge. "It appealed to me as the highest that I can vision. I wish it was in my heart, and I wish it was in the hearts of all: So I be written in the Book of Love; I do not care about that Book above. Erase my name, or write it as you will, So I be written in the Book of Love."

Wednesday, November 05, 2008

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Deja-vu all over, again....

Dateline, July 24, 1967....

Charles de Gaulle, then France's President, gives a barely disguised pro-Quebec liberation speech and shouts "Vive le Québec libre!" (Long live Free Québec!) to a crowd in Montreal, setting off a media frenzy, outrage from most Canadians, frenzied delight from supporters of Quebec Separatism, and a major diplomatic incident.

"It is a great emotion that fills my heart to see before me the French city of Montréal!

In the name of the old country, in the name of France, I salute you! I salute you with all my heart!

I would tell you a secret that you cannot repeat. Here this evening, and all the length of my trip, I found myself in the same sense of atmosphere as the Liberation! And all the length of my trip, in addition, I have noticed what immense efforts of progress, of development, and consequently of empowerment that you have accomplished here, and that it is to Montréal that I must give this statement, because, if there is a city in the world exemplary of modern success, it is yours! I say it is yours, and I permit myself to say, it is ours!

If you knew what confidence France, waking up after immense troubles, now carries for you, if you knew what affection she has started to feel again for the Frenchmen of Canada, and if you knew to what point she feels obliged to further your march that is before you, to your progress.

It's why she has finalised with the Government of Quebec, with my friend Johnson here, the agreements for which the French on this side and the other of the Atlantic can work together towards the same French undertaking. And, of course, the aid that France brings here, each day a little more, she knows well that you will reciprocate because you are building the best factories, enterprises, laboratories, which will be an astonishment for all, and which, one day, I know you will allow to aid France.

This is what I have come this evening to say, and that I will bring back from this unforgettable Montréal reunion, an unforgettable souvenir! The entirety of France knows, sees, hears that which is happening here, and I would tell you, she is better for it!

Long live Montreal!
Long live Quebec!
Long live free Quebec!

Long live, long live... long live French Canada!
And long live France!"

Dateline October 18, 2008, French President Nicolas Sarkozy gives a speech at the Francophonie Summit in Quebec City which has Canadian officials singing his praises and many in the Sovereignty movement screaming bloody murder.

Sarkozy stressed that France has a special relationship with Quebec based on 400 years of history. "I first want to extend a fraternal greeting to all Quebecois," he said. "I say fraternal because history has made us, French and Quebecois, brothers, because you, Quebecois hold a special place in the hearts of the French." He ended his speech with a distant echo of General de Gaulle: "Long live the friendship between Canada and France, and long live the fraternity between the French people and the Quebecois people."

However, he spent much of his speech dealing with the international financial crisis and called for Quebec to join in an overhaul of the capitalist system. "We have to reintroduce into the economy ethics, principles of justice and a social and moral responsibility," he said.

Later, speaking at a press conference, Sarkozy said:

"I have always been a friend of Canada," he said.

"That has been a constant in my political life, because Canada has always been an ally of France, it is a member of the G8, and frankly, if there is someone who wants to say that the world today needs more division, it means we do not have the same reading of the world,"

Sarkozy also said that he doesn't see how love for Quebec "has to feed proof of defiance toward Canada."

What apparently has some Federalists (pro-Quebec sovereignty) upset was that, unlike de Gaulle, Sarkozy didn't intimate that if Quebec left Canada tomorrow France would be supporting them all the way. In fact, he downright supported a united Canada!

Sovereignists are divided on both the meaning and the import of what Sarkozy said.

Some, like former Parti Québécois leader Lucien Bouchard said it was "inspiring and beautiful", in the other hand, former PQ leader Jacques Parizeau described Sarkozy's remarks as an attack on the movement, a "very anti-sovereignist judgment of Quebec. It means, 'We don't agree with the sovereignty of Quebec.'"

While the night before, after Sarkozy's speech at the Legislature, she declared Sarkozy's words "music to my ears", PQ leader Pauline Marois was tight-lipped about Sarkozy's statement at the press conference. However, she is now telling reporters that "Mr. Sarkozy has perhaps misunderstood our project." "Did he want to talk about division owing to the financial crisis?" she asked. "Maybe he does not understand the Quebec people's sovereignty project, which, on the contrary, is a very inclusive project, open to the world and modern.

"People for decades around the world have given themselves countries, and I think Mr. Sarkozy rejoiced." Marois said that what was important during Sarkozy's visit was his speech in the National Assembly, where, she said, the president made a "solemn declaration" that he wants a privileged - one-on-one and equal - relationship with Quebec.

"In this sense, I think it is a very positive declaration that recognizes us".

Jacques Parizeau called Sarkozy's remarks at the Citadelle "astounding." "It is a very ancient judgment on the sovereignty of Quebec. This is to say, 'We do not agree with the sovereignty of Quebec. We accept other divisions around the world, but not this one.'.... I don't recall ever having seen a state leader say this during all the big debates on Quebec sovereignty, during the entire referendum campaign."

Former PQ [Parti Quebecois] leader Bernard Landry demanded a clarification of Sarkozy's remarks (not that he is likely to get one)....
"I hope the president of the republic expressed himself poorly and that it is not the way he actually thinks," Landry said. "If the president of the French republic came and interfered in our affairs and took a position against the independence of Quebec, well, then it is extremely serious.

"I hope this is not it. This same president of the French republic greeted - and enthusiastically is the least you can say - the independence of Kosovo and he recognized that of Montenegro. If he loves us, let us go toward our destiny.

"It is not up to France to decide - it's Quebec." Landry said he hopes Sarkozy didn't violate the traditional French policy of non-interference toward Quebec, and said "the burden of proof" rests on his shoulders."

Dear me......