DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" ""> Tossing Pebbles in the Stream: 04/01/2008 - 05/01/2008 .comment-link {margin-left:.6em;}

Tossing Pebbles in the Stream

This blog is my place to sit and toss pebbles into the stream. The stream of Life relentlessly passing before us. We can affect it little. For the most part I just watch it passing and follow the flow. Occasionally, I need to comment on its passing, tossing a pebble at it to enjoy the ripple affect upon Life's surface.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

A Step Back from the Surveillance Society

The Canadian Supreme Court has just ruled against the police randomly using sniffer dogs to search for contraband in public places. The police had come to believe they could walk their sniffer dogs in public place in the vague hope of catching some individuals with illegal substances, particularly drugs.The Court has ruled that this is illegal as it violated the individual's protection against unreasonable search of seizure. (Article 8) Random use of police sniffer dogs breaches charter: top court

This judgement was wrought on the bases of two cases brought before it. One was the police being invited into a school to routinely search for drugs and the other was the use of sniffer dogs randomly in a bus depot. In both cases, they found drugs in the possession of individuals. This use of sniffer dogs was ruled illegal.

If you want to read the actual judgement view it here. Supreme Court of Canada - Decisions - R. v. A.M. It is always interesting to read the reasons and the dessenting opinions.

The use of sniffer dogs are not totally banned. The Supreme Court did make a compromise. In order to use sniffer dogs the police do not have to acquire a warrant first, but they do have to have reasonable suspicions that there is contraband to be found. They will have to convince a judge, if a case goes to trial, that they had good and specific reasons to use sniffer dogs in the case.

There is also an exception to this ruling. It is in airports they can still use sniffer dogs. The concern for security is justified in limiting the individuals right.

Needless to say the police are not pleased with this ruling. They believe the random use of sniffer dogs makes their work easier. Tough! (I guess my lack of respect for police is showing.) The law does not exist to serve the police. If it did the ultimate society would be a police state. The law exists to protect society and the individual, in part protection from illegitimate authority over our lives. The police have lots of latitude to do their job.

We are living in a time when a lot of individual rights and liberties have been sacrificed for security. After 9/11 when the Canadian government brought in security laws hastily out of fear and arm twisting by the even more fearful Americans. Now, hopefully, the pendulum can swing back again in defense of the rights and security of the individual.

Canadian Supreme Court in all their resplendent regalia.

It is interesting to note how different Canada's Supreme Court is compared with the United States Supreme Court. Besides, on formal occasions, dressing up like Santa's helpers rather than wear the dour black robes of their American counterparts, the Canadian Court is substantially different. It is generally more progressive in matters of social judgements. Perhaps, Canada's Charter of Rights and Freedoms are basically different from the American 's Bill of Rights. I don't think so. I think they reflect ,and sometime lead, Canada's more liberal and secular acceptance of differences. This is the court which brought us same sex marriage, and will eventually uphold decriminalizing marijuana when the Liberals once again displace the current Conservative government.

Unlike the American Supreme Court, Canada's Court has women as four of the nine judges and the Chief Justice is a woman, The Right Honourable Beverley Maclaughlin. This balance of gender is a good step forward. There is also some balance in religion, Protestant, Catholic, Jew This could be broadened. It is certainly lacking in ethnic balance. This should be the next significant improvement in our Supreme Court.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Earth Week

No I have not disappeared. I have not posted in a while and some blogging friends started to wonder about me. I have hit a dry spot. With a lot of things I would like to blog about I found myself unable to getting anything done.

I have been enjoying the Spring weather and fighting Depression, two conflicting experiences which frustrated my impulse to write something. This happens from time to time.

I am always moved by views of our island home from Space. It is truly beautiful and yet I know we daily treat it with contempt, now to the point of permanently changing it for the worst and making it less hospitable for human and animal life. This is enough to depress any thoughtful person.

I did not do much on Earth Day. I did walk the mile frontage of road on my property and pick up the garbage carelessly deposited over the Winter. This gave me a chance to spot the little trees struggling to develop in the ditch. In the last few years, I have been transplanted these back to the fenceline where they will be free to grow to maturity and create a wind brake.

Speaking of trees, I walked the section of riverbank we planted trees on a few years back. I was dismaying how slow they were to grow. i even replanted once. Well they seem to have caught at last. There seem to be many of the white pine we planted last and even many white Spruce we seemed to have unsuccessfully planted a few years earlier. All in all we have planted about 2000 trees along this section of river. Twenty years ago, I planted 8000 trees mostly along 3/4 of a mile along my frontage on the river. They are all doing well many as tall as 25 feet. This last effort is on the last 1/4 of mile of frontage. In five years, now that they are well started, they will be the size of Christmas trees and make the cabin feel even more remote.

A couple of news announcement have interested me this week. The Ontario government has bannned cosmetic use of pesticides. This is aimed at those home owners who just can't tolerated a dandelion in their lawn or ants living in the cracks of their paved drive ways. Sadly, golf courses, those environmental disasters in urban areas, are exempt along with farmers.

The government has moved to ban the toxic chemical, bisphenol -A, used in plastic bottles and toys. This chemical leaches out into the contents of the bottle. Of most concern is the use of it in baby bottles which are often heated increasing the leaching.

I hope this will lead to the decrease in the use of plastic food containers, particularly the wasteful and unnecessary water in a plastic bottle.Glass is such a wonderful material for containers. I don't see plastic as a better replacement. I bet if manufacturers had to factor in the environmental damage and recycling cost of plastic containers, glass containers would be cheaper. The time has long passed when goods can be made without the manufacturer being responsible for their final disposition.

I hope everyone did a little to acknowledge the importance of our environment in honour of Earth Day.

If you enlarge this picture by clicking on it you might notice the grass is starting to green . The herd of pigs are busy plowing it up in their search for tasty roots and bugs.

Here they are "the three amigos", my version, Gage, Dave and Runt. Dave is on a break from his latest task of replacing the sod on the lawn where the pigs turned it over. Dave doesn't say much but he seems to enjoy being around the animals. He is always fretting as to where they are and whether they are at risk .

This is my lilac bush which is starting to leaf up and develop blooms. It will be in its glory soon. I will post a picture then. This is sure sign that the gardening season is underway. Another is that Dave took off his long underwear, his long jeans, he calls them. Is this French Canadian speech for long johns? I just heard on the radio we might get some colder weather with a little snow. "Dave! You might need your long jeans again."

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Friday, April 18, 2008

Parental Anxiety

This is a picture of my son and his family. They live nearby in Sturgeon Falls, where Parker is a teacher and Sandra is a social worker. They are are nice child centered family in which the children are healthy, bright, and active in their school and community.

Olivia, Travis, Sandra (Mom) Dylan and Parker (Dad)

I only got to raise one son as a single parent. I had some role to play in raising some friend's children and my foster children during the seven years I did that. For the most part, I think back on those years as good years. I may even wish I could relive those years again until
I see some pictures like those below.

(click on photo to enlarge)

My eldest grandson, Dylan) sent me these pictures of an injury he got. He went though a glass door at school. I can only imagine the panic of the school officials not to mention the distress Parker and Sandra felt. I am so glad I am not a parent of young children having to deal with such emergencies.

According to Dylan he got 28 internal stitches and 35 external stitches to close his two inch deep cut. Ouch!

I never did have many emergencies to deal with. Parker, unlike Dylan ,was not accident prone. There was the time when he was just learning to walk and my hot coffee spllled over him and his skin began to peel off. His mother was quick to deal with that while I considered fainting! And then there was the time when he was a young teenager and I stuck the manure fork into his foot. It seems I was a hazard to children.

The worst time was not really an accident. At a family Christmas party Parker vomited all over my aunt's white broadloom carpet, not once, but twice.!! That is the only time I ever wished his mother was around. "Here do something with your child!" It all fell to me to clean up. There was no one else. I was father and mother. . . .and cleaner upper of messes. All in all I got off easy.

Those of you who have children or grandchildren you might want to find out if the children's school has shatterproof glass in the doors and windows. It turns out L'Ecole Publique Jeunesse Active where my grandchildren go to school while quite modern and has at least four glass doors which do not have shatter proof glass.

This is a smaller cut at the bottom of his calf. The muscle has been cut so he will be limping for a while.

By the time Dylan sent me an email with these pictures he was calm and I suspect a little proud to share them with me. He now has a scar to tell his children about!

I am glad my child rearing years are behind me. I manage to injure myself these days without having to cope with injuries to children.

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Spring Is Finally Here. . . I think!

After several days of wamer weather and wind the snow is largely gone.
Today we are enjoying double digit temperatures.

This is what Spring looks like. With some rain and warm weather it will quickly green up.

The litttlestrip of snow is the last of a drift along the edge of the gully behind the house.

(click on photo to enlarge)

I moved the feeding of the animals to higher and dryer land. The ground around the shed is all mud these days. They are all standing behind the electric fence. The road is drying up nicely, don't you think.

This is the runt enjoying eating away from the others where he does not have to compete with them for food.
Notice my newly plowed up lawn (if one dares to call it that.) You can let the animals do this sort of thing when you don't have a house proud wife. (There are a few advantages to being single.) The runt did not do it all. The sows did it before I got them under control behind the electric fence. Dave is now busy repairing the damage. Bless his heart. He rests on his walker between patches repaired. Remember Dave, Grass side up!
The runt continues to amuse me. While the other piglets rush to gobble up the feed by running as fast as their little stiff legs will cary them, the runt sashays along behind in no great hurry. I guess he know that if there is not enough feed for him he can go and get his own. He often comes up on the porch and eat right out of the bag of feed and then comes in the house for a nap behind the wood stove. He definitely has the best of both worlds.
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Saturday, April 12, 2008

April Snowstorm

In started yesterday and is continuing this morning. . . . . .a snowstorm. Just when all the snow on the ground had melted and we were in the mud, we got this Winter weather gift from the US Midwest. I guess we should be grateful it didn't bring with it tornados, although this does happen infrequently in late summer.

Across the road from the house. The front of the tractor is at the bottom of the picture. It may not show but it is snowing pretty well.

(My batteries in my camera are shot. I can only get them in the US for my Gateway camera. As a result I can only use my camera where i can plug into an electrical outlet. I am plugged in the cord to the block heater on the tractor.)

Looking up the road toward my neighbour Leo's place. There has been no traffic so their are no tire tracks in the snow. I suspect they will try to save money by not plowing the road forin a day or two the snow could call be melted away.

Gage licking up a snowflake.

(I am now plugged into the oulet at the door of the chickenhouse. ) He was sitting here whinning when I called him to come to the house. "Come on, pup!" I encouraged him. He came by running far to his left first and then approached the house from there. It seems he has learned the lessons of the electic fence. I know he has had a few shocks from it. Rather than whine he needs to realize he can jump over it.

The pigs came out to eat the grain I brought them to eat. Babe, the white sow is a little standoffish, because Gage is next to me. Gage for reasons of his own torments Babe something aweful
I looked for the Runt. This morning I let him outside on the porch to eat after he spent the night sleeping on the chesterfield. He is no longer a runt. when he tries to rub up against furniture the furniture moves. He is rapidly getting so he can rearrange the furniture. I crawled under the woodstove, that is so heavy he will never be able to move it, an had a very difficult time gettting out on his own.
The Runt had found his way back to the shed through the snow. He did not come out to feed with the others but was under the shelter keeping dry and warm keeping another "runt" company. I guess he was satiated with all the feed I gave him on the porch. I suspect sometime this afternoon he will be grunting at the door to come in.
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Below is John Mahoney, the man who moved to "southern Quebec because he couldn't stand another one of those. . .cold northern Vermont Winters.". His demonstrating what keeps you young living in the snowbelt. I wonder how much he is shovelling today.

He is an American living on the Canada/US border.

John maintains a very interesting web site full of creative stuff: photos, videos, essays, rants, etc. Many the creation of John but also many submitted by a group of authors. I dare you to visit and sample some of his most interesting website. LOG CABIN CHRONICLES.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Play to Aid

I am not a fan of playing games on computers. I did find this one interesting: educational and useful. It was recently mentioned on the CBC.

This is a language game for those who like to expand their vocabulary. It is also a way to contribute to funding an agency which supplies the rice to poor people, for whom rice is a staple.

There is an impending food crisis in many parts of the world. Are you aware that the price of rice has gone away up in the last year causing more people to find they can no longer afford to feed themselves or their family. Several countries, like Viet Nam which historically have exported rice have decided not to do so for their own food security.

Have you read there have been food riots in Haiti recently. The problem with the cost of rice is just the tip of the iceberg as we see most grains, worldwide getting very expensive: corn, wheat, oats, soya are all getting very expensive. (I know I have to buy livestock feed.) According to the BBC in the last year world-wide rice is up 75%, corn is up 31% and wheat is up 130%. it seems the days of cheap food are over.

You may also have read that the United Nations feed programs need more money because they cannot feed as many people this year as last on the funds they are now getting.

This game is a small way to contribute to the aid effort, have some fun expanding you vocabulary. With children this could be a competative gave. "Who can get the most word matches right in 2 minutes.".

I also invite you to visit the sister web side to this game

View the chart on International Aid. In Canada and in the United States we like to think we are generous donors to International Aid. Canada contributes only 30 cents out of every $100 earned in the country. The US is even worse at only 17 cents. We are well below the 70 cents the countries have set as a target goal. Compare this with Sweden that gives $1.03. Only five countries have reached the target goal.

I hope you enjoy the game and contribute rice to feeding those in need of this staple.

Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Strange Bedfellows

Gage and the Runt are trying to share the chesterfield.

I thought the runt had finally decided he was indeed a hog rather than a house cat. Last night he stayed with the rest of the piglets partially buried in the hay while we had a dramatic rainstorm.
He seemed happy rooting around with them all day.
This evening he showed up at the front door and Dave let him in. After trying to nest in a bag of sawdust I had in the corner of the kitchen, which is now widely scattered, he decided to try the chesterfield, which Gage also likes to lie on.
I think they look like an old married couple that have had a dispute and are now sleeping back to back. They started out facing one onother but the Runt kept trying to get closer to Gage by rooting in behind him. Gage gave up and got off the chesterfield only to get on the other end. It seem an accomadation has been reached.
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Saturday, April 05, 2008

The Runt Saga Continues

The weather is really Spring-like now. It has been perfect maple sugaring type weather, warm (above freezing) in the day and cool (below freezing) at night. This weather pattern also keeps the snow melting slow and flooding hazhards low.

We are at the northern limit of commercial sugar bushes. There is a small one in the next town of Field but I have never visited it.

Today it may go up to 9C will lots of sun. This will make short work of the remaining snow. With a little rain by next weekend it will mostly be gone. Ironically, then we can worry about flooding for it is not snow here that causes floods but the snow in the highland bush of Temagami forest melting and holding back in the wet snow and in beaver ponds before it is released in a rush.

The animals are enjoying the warmer weather. The pigs are beginning to root around in the softening ground, which includes my lawn. I really must get the electric fencing going.

They also get the itch to roam. A few days ago, one cow was almost in town a mile away before I realized she was missing. The pigs will travel the road if I do not watch them and Gage is not there to encourage (threaten) them to stay in the yard.

Enlarge this picture and you will see the sows and some of the piglets coming down the road. They were heading for my neighbour's place when I spotted them.

Luckily, they come when called when I give my best Arkansas Razorback call. Feeding time!

I have been trying to keep the Runt outside now. He goes down and roots around and spends some time with the other piglets. Dave reports he even got a free suck on one of the sows. ( Think Dave is having a great time playing pir herder. He certainly has spent a lot of time outside watching them and directing traffic when necssary. Sure beats the long Winter hours he has spent in his room.)

The runt follows me like a dog and comes when I call with my rapid fire piglet call, "piggy, piggy, piggy"! He knows he is the house piggy and not just another barnyard hog.

I only feed him outside usually on the porch. Not really far enough away from the house. Soon off the porch with him.

He does come in at night . He likes to sleep behind the wood stove although he has discovered the front hall closet and Denis's old chainsaw pants lying on the floor. He likes to bury himself in these grubby old pants. Could he be missing Denis?

In the above picture you see his latest trick. He has learned to climb up on the chesterfield and now likes to sleep there at night. Hmmm!. . . . . Now squint at the picture and imagine Runt weighing 800 pounds!!! I don't think the furniture will survive.

"He thinks he is going to leave me behind with those dirty baryard pigs.! In a pig's eyeI I am going for a nap in the house."Posted by Picasa

Thursday, April 03, 2008

What Are These?

Below are a couple of my treasures. Can you identify them?

The top one is a "brass knuckle" (made of steel), the only weapon I own. I discovered it hidden in the wall of my Qeen Anne Style, Late Victorian house in New Haven, CT years ago. It was with a small quantity of white powder and a vial of oily substance that seems to have degraded. Must be a story there.

The bottom picture is of leather heal protectors. You pull them on over your socks and they protect them from wearing holes in the heals. They are from a time when men wore real wool socks which can wear through easily. My dear friend, Madam Carre, gave them to me. Her husband, Isadore, must have worn them years ago. There was a time when loggers went into the bush to live in a lumber camp all Winter. With these leather heals their socks would last longer away from the wife to mend them. These were commercially made so I guess they were widely used in the country. They would be good for farmers who are always slipping rubber boots on and off, which is how I rub the heals out of my socks.

Martin Luther King Jr.

It is forty years since that fateful day when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was killed. He had come to loom large in my life, reinforcing my growing commitment to religious pacifism. He thoughts and life demonstrated to me that "Faith and Action must be One". At the time, I was living in the United States doing what I could toward racial and social justice. I was living in Roxbury, the innercity black community in the Boston area, working part time in a church there while attending seminary.

This picture is by a student who wrote about Dr King as his hero, My Hero. I hope teachers continue to teach students though the examples of heros who have shaped our lives.

I remember the day well. Besides, the sense of tragic loss I and others felt. We were waiting to see what the reaction of the black community would be. Would the cities of the United States break out in race riots again.

.I went for a walk in my neighbourhood. There were few people on the street but I acknowledge those whose eye I caught with a understanding and knowing nod. I remember one old fellow sitting beside the sidewalk enjoying his liquor in a brown paper bag. He spoke to me, "How are you today, Brother?" " Sad, very sad!" I replied. He nodded and went back to his drink.

Tension was high but not hostile.

I had no sooner gotten back to the house when I got a call from a community leader. They were looking for a space to hold a memorial meeting. My church, the First Church in Roxbury, is a beautiful large New England Meeting House built in 1804, the third building for a congregation that went back to 1630. It had once been a wealthy congregation when Roxbury was a wealthy neighbourhood. It was one of those historic churches largely abandoned by the congregants as the demographics of the city changed. While it no longer related much to the local community it was the most beautiful building in Roxbury and I think treated with respect for that.

I was flattered to be asked. I said I would see what I could arrange. I made the necessary phone calls and like so many of these insitutions, the caretaker was the most powerful person. By the time I could track him down and convince the old racist, that having Dr King's Memorial Meeting in the church would be a good thing to do, and no "those black people" won't damage the place and steal things.

By the time, I got back to the fellow who had called me, they had arranged for another hall. I was dissapointed and wished I had just taken it upon myself to give permission.

I went to the community meeting. Much to my surprise I was the only white face among about 1000 people. It hadn't dawned on me that I would be the only "white folk". I was accepted and welcomed but disappointed more of "my people" were not there. It was later in a broader based downtown church that they would turn out.

As it happened, there was not a lot of social unrest across the country. Sadness across all sectors of the community made it a shared community grieving.

Dr King was perhaps the greatest of those "heros" of my generation who where murdered. I trust his ideas on race, society and war will continue to inspire us.

Note: For a more moving and detailed account of Dr King read Father John Dear's account

He tells us Dr King's very last words were "Precious Lord, Take My Hand" the title of the hymn he wanted to use at that nights meeting.

Precious Lord, take my hand.

Lead me on, let me stand
I am tired. I am weak. I’m alone
Through the storm, through the night
Lead me on to the light
Take my hand precious
Lord, lead me home.

. . . .