DOCTYPE html PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.0 Strict//EN" ""> Tossing Pebbles in the Stream: 04/01/2009 - 05/01/2009 .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.

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Heidi and Her Kitten

Some people have been asking about Heidi and her pet kitten. So here are some photos.

(click on photos to enlarge)

These are the two kittens which have been raised in my closet until now. They are presently enjoying some adventures living under my desk where they can sit on my feet. The one on the left is Heidi's kitten.

Whenever she get a chance, Heidi picks her kitten up by the scruff of her neck and puts her on the bed. She used to go into the closet and find her now she nosey's around the desk until she locates her. She begins to bathe the kitten licking her all over; belly, under the tail, and on her back. The kitten just lies there and takes her rough washing. What else can she do? This is a once daily event.

Here Heidi has placed the kitten on her paws to finish up the bath.

The kitten sees willing to lay along side Heidi for a while. When a good opportunity occurs, when she can rejoin her kitten and mother, she does. Heidi's daily cleaning chore being over.

I worry a little that Heidi might hurt the kitten just because of her size and strength. It is interesting to see a animal that would rip the throat out of a pig. if it could, would be so gentle and attentive to a kitten.

I am glad she understands I am the Alpha male around here and also a "pussy cat" of a person.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

The Border

Canada had a nasty encounter this week with the Secretary of Homeland Security of the United States, Janet Napolitano, about Canada and our border with the US.

First, let me say how I feel about the border. I was told as a child that Canada and the US shared the longest undefended border in the World. In this we took great pride for it represented two countries that had mutual respect and an easy relationship with one another. I grew up near the border and on occasion crossed into the US. For the most part this was a casual routine affair although the US border guards always seems a little abrupt with guests coming into their country.

"What country were you born in? Where are you going? Is it for business or pleasure? How long do you intend to stay? OK"

Coming back we were often waved right through when the Canadian border attendent saw the Canadian license plate. If we stopped the conversation began:

Welcome to Canada! How long have you been out of the country? Did you purchase anything in the US? Fine. Have a safe trip."

Well it seemed friendlier to me as a child who had been instructed to say nothing while we crossed into the US, which had an aspect of mystery and dread.

While birth certificates were required as proof of citizenship rarely were we ever asked to show them. Once I was refused entry because I did not have it when I tried to cross into the US at Windsor Ontario. When the border patrol guy said well how do I know you were born in Canada.
I replied, because I say I was born in "Trawna" in the same way, when you speak you say you are from "DeTROIT". He was not impressed and I was not going to drive four hours back to Toronto to get my birth certificate. So I went to the tunnel crossing and the border patrol guy there did not ask for my birth certificate. I was in.

Only once did I ever cross the border and have an armed US border patrol officer pop out of the building. It was in Calais, Maine. We were returning from a holiday in PEI. I was startled when the guy showed up with a pistol on his hip. We were thoroughly searched including having to unload and unfold our tent. Seems they were looking for drugs. Lucky my American friend, who all the while protested, "But I am the associate minister of the First Church in Boston." had buried his marijuana in a mason jar on the Canadian side to be retrieved the next year. (He has now retired to PEI at Malpecque Harbour where he can eat to his heart's desire the picked herring and lobster right from the fishermen.)

For the most part crossing the border was a routine "Oh, hum" affair. We liked it that way.

Well 9/11 and American fear and anxiety began to bring an end to all that. The Americans at first talked of creating a security system that would include Canada within and not without. Soon it became obvious that the US was interested in creating Fortress America and Canada was on the outside and a source of threat. Canada, while not being as frightened or anxious has tried to respond to the US concerns by beefing up our border security, including arming our border agents among other things. Also, Passports will now be required to enter into the US both by Canadian residents and Americans returning to the US.

Of course, the US never does things half way. There are now to be drone aircraft patrolling the vast border. There has also been talk about building a fence along the Canadian border. Lot of luck building it along the middle of the Great Lakes. There has even been talk of putting armed warships on the Great Lakes in spite of a treaty that prevents this. Well, it seems the US has never signed a treaty or a law they can't break.

Over the years Canada has enjoyed some good natured fun at the expense of our American cousins for their excesses, ignorance of Canada and heavy handed approach to diplomacy.

For your enjoyment below is a skit by Canada's comedy group . Air Farce, about the border.

There are times when issues with the US are not funny. This week as far as I am concerned we had one of those. The Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, spoke at a meeting at the Brookings Institute of Americans and Canadians discussing border issues, demonstrated her ignorance and heavy handed approach. With the Obama Administration I would have though we saw the last of this approach that we had come to expect with the Bush Administration. It was not that an American showed some ignorance of things, it is that this American showed an ignorance of things that were her responsibility.

What caught every Canadian's attention is that she said some of the terrorist responsible for the 9/11 attack came into the US through Canada. THIS IS NOT TRUE. This is a myth that has been spoken far too often by American officials. It is this kind of lie that got the US to invade Iraq. I guess we should be grateful Canada was not invaded. After Canada's Ambassador to the US had to protes and point out this error, her feeble attempt to cover up her ignorance just made it worse, with her hiding behind "national security." The problem is if she believed this it colours her view of Canada andfthe necessity of a secure border. Sadly, her predecessor, Michael Chertoff also believed this lie. To make it worse, John McCain repeated this lie the next day on Fox news. He too should be expected to know the truth.

As it turned out this is only half of the issue with the Secretary. She came to talk about issues around the border. Sadly, she came not to listen but to lay down the law as to how it will be. This bully attitude does not go over well with Canadians. She obviously knows little about the Canadian/US border. She thinks it is just another version of the Mexican/US border and should be treated the same. She sees Canada as a lax country that lets people in which the US would exclude and therefore a security threat. Her perception of Canada is that we are a country infiltrated with terrorists wanting to get into the US just as the 9/11 terrorist did Wrong, wrong wrong on all accounts. And she should lecture us when the US has 12 million illegal aliens in its country most of whom came across the Mexican/US border. What kind of control does the US have on who enters their country. Not much it seems. Canada has a good, but not perfect system just like other countries.

Apparently the Secretary feels she must treat the Canadian border in the same way as the US treats the Mexican border. There can be no difference, apparently because of NAFTA, whatever logic this is slips by me. One should not have to point out that the two borders are quite different as to the attitude, history, and challenges they present. Canadians do not look with longing to a Greater Canada as Mexicans view the Southwest of the US as a Greater Mexico, as a land of hope and prosperity. We have plenty of that here at home. Canada historically respects the border even back to the times when in the West the Mounted Police had to remind American profiteers, whiskey ttraders and fortune hunters how to behave in Canada. And of course, how we welcomed Sitting Bull, after he defeated Custer at the Little big Horn, leting him stay, if he and his tribe behaved. Canada is also not a corrupt country with a major drug war going on along the border. It seems to me there are real differences that should be accomadated.

When I left the United States I gave a gift to my best friend. It was a wonderful tabletop book entititled "Between Friends/Entre Amis". It is a book of photos and comments about places along the Canadian/ US border. It was created by the National Film Board of Canada as a gift to the US on Canada's Centennial. It shows that the border is only a slightly delineated barrier between us, maintained by mutual respect and not armed guards. Farms come right up to the border, towns are divided by the border and even in places the border passes through buildings. My favourite is in Derby Line where the border passes though the town library, the entrance is on the Canadian side and the books are all on the American side. People along the border have throughout our history have easily passed back and forth visiting family members and neighbours. I feel the currentUS border security attitude disrespects this wonderful tradition and will not take it into account. It seem Fortress America will only be happy when all those places close up to the border are bulldozed and a physical and electronic barrier is put in its place. I hope the US will feel more secure but as an Canadian I will feel less secure living next to a neighbour who sees me as a threat and potential enemy rather than a friend and neighbour.

To Secretary Napolitano; find a copy of "Between Friends/Entre Amis". Canada's gift to Americans. A copy was presented to President Ford by Prime Minister Pierre Trudeau. READ THE BOOK, and try to understand that Canada has a different, a unique, border relationship with the US. Perhaps. the next time you will be a little more knowledgeable and understanding.
Canada is not Mexico, we have real issues of free flow of people and commerce across the border that need to be addressed for the mutual benefit of our two countries.

Here are a few pictures from the book, If this fellow is still willing to sell this book for $60. It is a real bargain.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

His Presence Honours Us

This week in many countries people are remembering the Holocaust. My whole life I have been aware of the Holocaust and its meaning for all of us and Jews, in particular. I remember my mother telling me about it. I think she thought it was important for us to know about it. I also as a teenager remember going to the beach at Roches Point on Lake Simcoe and seeing so many adults having tatooed numbers on their arm. I knew that they were Holocaust survivors. I would have liked to talk with some of them about it but I was shy and respectful of their privacy. And at a very young age I watched the movie Nuit et Brouillard (Night and Fog), the first movie made about the Holocaust that used captured Nazi footage. It left an impression on me.

I write all this as background because I want people to know I am sensitive to the Holocaust and its meaning. But, this year I think it is appropriate to remember a Palestinian of recent history. Dr Esseldeen Abu al-Aish.

Dr. Abu al-Aish was the gynocologist who was working in the hospital in Gaza during the attacks on the Gazans by Israel recently. His home was fired upon and three of his daughter (Bisan,20; Mayar 15 and Aya 13) were murdered along with one of his nieces (Nour 14). Another of his daughters (Shatha 16) was severely injured. Here is an account of the events.

It is important to know that the doctor is a man committed to peace. He worked in hospitals in both Gaza and Israel. For years has was a much respected physician delivering babies of both Israelis and Palestinians.

Since Easter, a time for Christians to find meaning in suffering I have been trying to learn what I can of Dr. Abu al-Aish. The more I learned the more I admire this saintly man. Last September his wife died of leukemia and he was left to raise his 8 children to whom he is much devoted and a very proud. He wanted them all to grow up sharing his commitment to peace and with careers that would make a real contribution to the World. His 15 year old daughter who died was the one who wanted to become a doctor like her father.

The day his home was fired upon he was on the telephone with a TV station in Israel to which he had been regularly reporting on the circumstance in Gazan. The station finally arranged for him and the injured to be evacuated to Israel for medical treatment. (There is a You Tube video of this)

One of the additional tragic elements in his story is that during these days there were two doctors in Canada, one Jew, one Muslim, trying to arrange for the doctor and his family to come to Canada. It has since happened but too late for three of his precious daughters.

I cannot give Dr. Abu a-Aish full credit with my words so I would ask that you take 20 minutes and listen to the radio documentary done on the CBC show The Current. This show moved me and I am sure it will you. In this documentary the full humanity of this wonderful man shines through. (click on the strip at the bottom of the paragraph about the show broadcast March 2 to hear the broadcast)

Dr Abu al-Aish has been given a research position at the University of Toronto. He will be moving his family to Canada for a while were he can devote time to them so they may heal as a family.
I hope they do and that their time in Canada will be very important to them.

I also hope the Dr. Abu al-Aish will find time to make his voice heard in Canada as a Palestinian who is committed to peace and understanding between Israel and Palestine. His voice and many more like him need to be heard. We hear too much from the right wing pro Israel point of view. Many of these fanatics don't even see Palestinians as fully human. I would hope that Canada's policy would change and be more even handed. It used to be. But under the Conservatives the government seems to want to fall in line with the Americans in that "never again" means that Israel can do no wrong and must be supported whatever they do to the Palestinians. This attitude is beginning to change. The Europeans are not of one voice with the Americans. There is even talk now that Israel should be held to account for 'war crimes" over their recent military destruction of Gaza. It is ironic that the Israelis remember each year on April 19 the Holocaust on the anniversary of the uprising in the Warsaw Ghetto and now comparisons have been made between Gaza and the Warsaw Ghetto. In both instances, the civilian population was trapped in a confined area with no place to flee too.

Over the years I have become disillusioned with Israel. One would expect that a people who had suffered in the Holocaust would be very sensitive to suffering they might inflict upon others. But no, "never again" means that Israel will make others suffer terribly, and even to their ultimate destruction, before they will ever have suffering wrought upon them again.

Well, Dr Ezzeldeen Abu al-Aish and his family were the innocent victims of unforgivable Israeli aggression. In the face, of his personal tragedy Dr Abu al_Aish refuses to speak in anger and hatred about those who have tried to destroy his life and family. He honours us with his presence!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Earth Day 2009

I hope everyone is having a lovely day for Earth Day. May everyone find some small way to honour Mother Earth by improving the environment.

The Ontario government has taken a big step by banning all cosmetic uses of pesticides, herbicides and fungicides.

Getting rid of unnecessary toxins in the environment is always good. Besides many of these products are oil based. We should be weaning ourselves off oil whenever possible.

It always shocked me to go to our local hospital and see little signs on the lawn that it had just been treated with pesticides. Why would a hospital think it was necessary to put poison into the environment just to have a weed free lawn. (Keep it cut short and we will not see the weeds!) These are the same people that toss smoking patients outside to smoke because they pollute the environment and are a hazard to others inside the hospital. Once I actually wrote a letter protesting both the hazard and the waste of money.

It is not as if there were no alternatives to dangerous chemicals. Besides, non toxic products still available we have known ways to controlling pests for years. I have a wonderful book, "Farm Weeds" published by the Department of Agriculture of Canada in 1909. It is a wonderful hard covered book with lovely drawing of weeds and very informative text describing the weeds, their life cycle and propagation method and how to control them. (before there were so many toxic chemicals available.) This book was available to farmer for $1.00. A real bargain for the amount of knowledge it contains on good farming practices for controlling weeds based on understanding the weeds and how they live and die. The knowledge here on week control is just as valid today as back then.

Hopefully, Ontarians can stop worrying about pets, children, pesticide drift into their vegetable garden and other ways we might contact potentially dangerous toxins. A great deal of these substances wash off the land and get into the rivers, lakes and groundwater, presenting a potential hazard in our precious drinking water.

It is too bad that golf courses are exempt. I think most people think a nice green space like a golf course in the urban area is an environmental plus. In fact, golf courses are environmental disasters. They certainly do not need to be exempted.

Farms and the forestry industry as well as health threatening infestations are also exempt. The farming industry in the last decade or so has become very aware of the dangers of the chemicals they use and farmers are now taught and certified on how to use them and dispose of the containers. An efficient farmer would use as little as possible of these chemicals as they are an added expense as well as a hazard to their family, land and water.

I see no indication of whether railroads and hydro rights of way will be covered. They have traditionally sprayed to keep down weeds and brush. Mechanical removal is the alternative to achieve the same end result.

Now if only the Ontario government will move up the dates to decommission the remaining coal fired generating stations. (4) Originally the date this was to be achieved was 2007, and then 2009 and now it is some indefinite date in the future, possibly 2014. Not very satisfactory!

My effort today will be modest. I shall go and pick up the trash along the mile frontage of my property. Already a neighbour said he picked up 24 beer bottles between his place and mine. I found 7 by the bridge over my river already. At east the bottles are worth something. Most of the trash has no value.

Have a nice Earth Day.

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Reading for Fun. . . . .And Profit?

"You Can't Tell a Crook By His Card, Eh!

The above cartoon made me think of my friend Denis who is currently on vacation at "Club North Bay Jail" at the invitation of our judicial system. The wild child, as I affectionately refer to to as, got a little out of hand. Enough said.

While Denis does not have a very extensive formal education, (two years of high school, I think)
he is quite an enthusiastic reader. He has read several substantial books from my library and we have enjoyed discussing them.

This is only vaguely related to what I decided to blog about, the importance of reading in Canada. I was reading lately that Canadians are still buying books at their usual rate or higher in spite of these hard economic times. While at the same time our American cousins are buy books less. It seems Canadians do not see books so much as a luxury but as a necessity, even in hard times
This lead me to do a little research and try to understand how American and Canadian culture differs with regard to reading. I did not have to look far as the government does this kind of research, not for my benefit but for the benefit of the book retailers.

It amazes me how much useful information the government publishes which is free for the asking. For example, years ago I learned how to extract semen from a boar using a fake sow for him to mount, my hand and a styrofoam cup. I don't think I need to pursue this any further.

Returning to the study. ( I encourage you to read it). It seems Canadians read quite a bit. Much more than our southern neighbours. Perhaps, our winters are just much longer! Seriously, I don't know why. It would be interesting to know why. Also, the amount of reading Canadians are doing is not decreasing over the years. The Internet, to which we are among the most connected in the World, is not interrupting our "important' reading for pleasure. They expect Canadians, as an aging population, will continue to read a lot and even increase the amount of reading.

Here are some telling quotes from the study:

On the Amount of Reading

"A 2005 readership study by the Department of Canadian Heritage (PCH), Reading and Buying Books for Pleasure, found that nearly 9 in 10 (87%) Canadians said they read at least one book for pleasure in the 12 months preceding the study1 and that half (54%) read virtually every day. The average time spent reading is 4½ hours per week (unchanged since 1991); the average number of books read per year, 17 (down only slightly from 1991). Fully one-quarter (26%) reported that reading is the leisure activity they most commonly engage in, as many as cited TV-watching, putting reading and TV-watching in the #1 spot among leisure pursuits in Canada (and dwarfing “Internet activities,” which only 9% cited). These findings support the PCH report's conclusion that “reading for pleasure remains a solidly established and widespread habit with little or no change over the last 15 years.”"

On the Importance of Reading

  • "Nearly half (43%) of Canadians said they enjoy reading “very much,” and a further 39% like to read some of the time (PCH).
  • Eighty-five percent indicated that “reading is very important to me” (PCH).
  • Eighty-two percent said they “read for fun” and 72% to “relax/unwind,” higher than the 60% who read to “learn” (CPC).
  • Forty-three percent picked “reading books” as an activity they would choose to do if they had more time, virtually tied with the #1 pick, “visiting with friends in a home” (45%) and the #3 pick at 40%, “out of home entertainment” (CPC)."

How Canadians Compare with Americans

  • "Canadians' reading rate remained virtually constant over the past two decades, while Americans' declined.
  • Where 87% of Canadians read a book in a 12-month time frame, 57% of Americans had.
  • Where 79% of Canadians read literary materials in a 12-month time frame, 47% of Americans had.
  • Where one-half of Canadians read virtually every day, almost half of Americans read an average of less than one book per year."

For me the amount of reading Canadians do is surprisingly high and is held in high esteem as a worthwhile activity. The contrast with the Americans is startling even shocking that the gap could be so wide. There is obviously a wide cultural gap here. I have yet to understand its significance. Are Americans action oriented while Canadians are reflective: outer directed compared with inner directed. Perhaps, it explains, in part, Canadian's greater awareness and appreciation for the World beyond our borders. Does it say anything about the differences in our educational systems. I do know Canada has a very extensive free public library system that reaches into ever,y community. Even our little town of 100 families, or so, has a small branch of the West Nipissing Library. (And this is a community where there is a large number if functionally illiterate men who left school early to work in the mines, the forest or on the farm.)

I shall continue to try to understand these differences in my life long interest in comparing and contrasting Canadian and American Culture.

I Have Been On Spring Break

For reasons, unclear to me, I have not been able to bring myself to sit down and post an entry for a week. I guess I just needed a break. My mind certainly has been full of ideas to post. A couple I may bring myself to writing down in the near future.

If I need an excuse I could blame it on the weather. It has been warm and sunny at last. Just lovely! I have been busy with some chores outside. There are so many more to do. Lucky our Spring season is long here so there is time before the lazy days of summer.

(click on photo to enlarge)

My small herd of pigs has been enjoying lying in the sun in front of the house. So far no one has stopped to ask to photograph them. Years ago, when I had my pet boar, Boar Ass, (Boris, if you prefer), people used to like to phonograph him. With pigs raised inside in Canada people do not often see pigs by the side of the road. Only local folks pass by this time of year and they are used to my quirky relationship with, and treatment of, animals. Come the tourist season, I may catch people straining to look at the porkers.

They will not see all this bunch, I am afraid. As much as I enjoy their company and antics, I have sold the young pigs, at last. They do cost a lot to feed. There is no money in raising pigs unless you have a source of cheap feed. These days with the price farmers are paid for their slaughter pigs they are losing on every animal. The price cycle in hogs swings wide. It never seems to be reflected in the price at the supermarket so you can assume the middlemen, the processors, are enjoying the profits that otherwise should be going to farmers.

I will still have the two "pet" sows, Ruby and Babe to amuse me and turn heads.

This is the time of year I like to check out the river. It is always full of water, although a long way from flooding. It never floods on my land as it run in a rather deep channel here. It is nice to see the open water and hear it slipping by. It is so cold and clear and clean. When the sun shines one might be tempted to plunge in for a swim. NOOOOOOOO! Hold me back. It is very cold and will be until the beginning of June. Some timid souls feel it is even too cold at the height of the summer but they are mistaken. It is glorious, refreshing and life enhancing.

I have mastered the fine art of floating on my back without moving. I have on occasion even fallen asleep in this position with my hands behind my head. It is a wonderful way to watch the clouds float by. Here I am dreaming of Summer even before Spring has worked it's magic.

The above picture shows a cedar lined bank of the river on my property down my the bridge.
I wish there were more but slowly the riverbank is slowly restoring itself adjacent to this stretch.
I have been watching in for 30 years increasingly brush and tree covered. On the other side, the north side, I encouraged this process with planting several thousand trees along the river.

And here is the bridge. It is completely on my property. It was installed after the flood of 1979 which took out the old bridge. It was not as high above the water. I used to always swim here in the best waterhole along the river, when Parker was young. (I now swim 1/4 mile downstream in front of the cabin).

The bridge is a big draw for the adventurous who like to jump off it into the middle channel of the river. In the Summer, on the near side their is a large boulder which shows above the surface to sit on, cavort around, dive off and whatever. To the inside of the boulder is an eddy current that float upstream as it circles around the boulder.

This is my field across from the house. You can see how the snow is retreating. It is largely gone around here but you can be sure there is still a lot of snow up in the bush in at the headwaters of our watershed in the Temagami Wilderness. The snow, lakes, ponds, beaver dams hold the water up on the land until it cannot hold it any more and them we could see a dramatic rise in the river, possibly a little flooding south of here.

I have been thinking about the Red River flood in Manitoba this year. Part of the flooding problem is man-made which is not often talked about. It is that the flat farmland is mostly tiled and drained such that the run off would be faster than normal. With a short growing season in the North it is important that the land be dried out early so that planting can be done. This is true for much of the farmland in the US along the Red River and other rivers that flow south into the Mississippi. There is a long history of flooding of the Red River. In the Hudson Bay company's archives in Winnipeg there is an account of one in 1828 written by Francis Heron. You can read the transcript of this account which almost wiped out the Fort Garry settlement at what is now Winnipeg. (The HBC archives is a remarkable record of the 300 plus years of the fur trade by the HBC. The managers of the outposts were wonderful record keepers.)

Before agriculture these grasslands would have held the water on the land in great wet seasonal marshes that would be habitat for migrating birds. It would slowly release the water into the rivers. Flooding would be a less frequent event. As a result, nowadays, people who want to live along the river must live behind dikes and be prepared to battle flooding frequently. Mother Nature is not easily redirected. We would all be better off if we moved away from rivers and restored forested and grassland habitat along the banks. It would have so many advantages from wildlife habitat to cleaner water to some flood control and water conservation. Sadly, not enough is being done to protect and preserve great rivers. With water shortages we are paying the price for abusing our rivers, among other water bodies.

Friday, April 10, 2009

Easter Weekend

Do they still have Easter Parades? Do women still wear hats?? Other than the Queen, Queen Elizabeth II, who never fails to wear one.

I remember, a life time ago, when women put on their best bib and tucker and paraded at Easter on the boardwalk along the lake at Sunnyside Park in Toronto. Boy am I old. It seems the effort was to be elegant and fashionable as in the movie classic, Easter Parade.

The video below has the added advantage of French subtitles. How's your French?

It seems they still do have Easter parades. Here is the one from last year in New York. Whatever happened to grace and elegance, not to mention, respect, missing in the cynical comment of the "alleged" meaning of Good Friday. Times have changed.

I hope everyone has a lovely Easter weekend. For me, the Springtime of the year holds it own Easter meaning. Like the Biblical account, in Spring, there are always possibilies of New Being for all of us. It promises to be a warm sparkling weekend here full of promise.

Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Rwanda Remembered

It is the 15th Anniversary of the Rwanda genocide. It deserves to be remembered but the World that largely ignored it at the time has moved on and cares not to remember this predictable tragedy. In the World of realpolitik a small landlocked country in the heart of Africa with no oil or other basic resources, is easily ignored.

It continues to remind us all of our failure to do nothing in the face of unmitigated evil. How many times must we pledge, "Never again!" and be prepared to act. We have yet to learn as we face the fate of Darfur.

President Clinton has publicly admitted his lack of action by his administration is his greatest regret of his Presidency. The UN proved impotent to do anything and even tried to withdraw the few troops it had in Rwanda at the beginning of the genocide of 100 days. The French have much to account for as they supported the genocidal forces of the government and militias. Others should have and could have done more to intervene and didn't.

One of the few heroes was General Romeo Dallaire, the Canadian head of UN forces in Rwanda.
He struggled with his UN bosses in New York to do more while refusing to leave Rwanda He believed his small force should remain to do what they could and be witness to the genocide.
(His book, "Shaking Hands With the Devil", is a thoughtful read of the events of those days and his personal and professional stuggle to be present in the face of international inaction and the genocidal evil.)

(There are many videos on Youtube. I chose this one as it is the least shocking and most informative)

A brief factual history can be read here.

Notes on Romeo Dallaireéo_Dallaire

Summary of International Tribunal

Friday, April 03, 2009

Rain, Rain . . . . ..

"April showers bring May flowers." Oh, how I wish! But first the rain will have to get rid of the snow on the ground.

The last two days I have been trying to regain access to my Blogger dashboard so I can post a piece. It has been frustrating to say the least. Blogger requested that I use a gmail address with my blog. I guess so all Goggle owned programs usesa gmail account. Well I do have a gmail account I seldom use so I went about replacing my AOl mail address with Blogger. Somewhere along the way it got all screwed up. I went around and around trying to straighten it out. I even cleared my cache and cookies as suggested. I also lowered my firewall protection a little . I made sure my java scripting setting was enabled. For two days this went on all the while being told my username and password don' t match, or worse still the account does not exist. etc., etc., etc.

Finally, a miraculous breakthrough. I get the opening page of the dashboard BUT with an offer to set up a blog. But I have no way of accessing the blog I have been maintaining all these years.
At this point, I realized I had opened an account for "" rather than "". There seems to be a solution here. After some more diddling first on AOL Browser and then on the Firefox Browser, all got sorted out.

If I had been able to get Blogger help on the phone I think I would have been abusing some poor tech guy at the other end.

I have also been learning to touch type. I think I will actually do it this time. It too is stressful which I relieve by periodically having to call the pigs home. I seem to be making progress.

When I went to high school only dummies or girls or both took typing. Those of us in the academic stream took Latin instead. We were supposed to learn some lovely penmanship, which was beyond me who was left handed handicapped.Typing was below us.

I went through 8 years of university paying someone to type up my essays (On occasion I wrote them out long hand in my difficult hand writing.) When I got married in the second year of University my wife often did it and increasingly did more as I went further in school. The day I graduated from graduate school I got the word. "I will no longer type anything else for you."

When I took my first job as the minister of a church I spend many hours in my first year teaching myself to type. I tried to learn to use all my finger while looking. I got quite good at it for letter and sermon writing. I was slowed when I had to type a quote into a sermon as I then had to look away from the keyboard.

When I got a computer, after years of not typing much. I found using just two fingers worked for me on the small laptop computer. Until now this is what I have been doing. It works OK but it always frustrates me that I never learned to touch type properly. A couple of years ago, I tried to teach myself to do so but got distracted and went back to two fingers because of Instant Messenger.

Well after a week of a real effort with a free online program, ( not being able to access my blog and it raining outside,) I have made real progress. . . .I thinkI I actually may master this skill. Perhaps, April showers will bring something other than flowers. . . .. 30 word per minute perhaps.